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"Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence, 
they take all the colours of life, they are often exquisite 
strokes of genius, they delight by their airy sarcasm or 
their caustic satire, the luxuriance of their humour, the 
playfulness of their turn, and even by the elegance of their 
imagery, and the tenderness of their sentiment. They 
give a deep insight into domestic life, and open for us the 
heart of man, in all the various stetes which he may 
occupy; a frequent review of proverbs should enter into 
our readings; and although they are no longer the orna- 
ments of conversation, they have not ceased to be the 
treasuries of thought."— /5aa« Disradi 





Authorities Consulted vii 

Introduction i 

Proverbs about Proverbs .... 41 

Singular Proverbs 47 

Obscure Proverbs 52 

Proverbs Founded on Historic Incidents, 
Legends, Folk-Tales, etc 67 

Curious Objects Referred to in Proverbs . 88 

Bible Proverbs — Old Testament ... 98 

; Bible Proverbs — New Testament . . .114 


i Proverbs Suggested by the Bible or Suggest- 
ing THE Bible 128 

Christmas and Easter Proverbs . . .145 

Graceful Proverbs 154 

-|^ Impossibilities and Absurdities in Proverbs . 164 

Superstition in Proverbs 175 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs . . .188 

^ Weather Proverbs 203 

i v 

vt Contents 


Wit and Humour in Proverbs . . .219 

Local and National Characteristics and Pre- 
judices IN Proverbs 237 

Rhyming Proverbs 250 

Grouping Proverbs 265 

Animal Proverbs 284 

^ Contradicting Proverbs 294 

Contemptuous Proverbs 309 

Whimsical Proverbs 322 

Question and Answer Proverbs . . . 332 

Retorting Proverbs 343 

Quotation Proverbs 351 

Curious Proverbial Similes and Com ta risons . 365 

Authors Quoted 385 

Index . . . . , • . . . 391 


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viii Curiosities in Proverbs 

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Authorities Consulted ix 

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Masayoshi, Ota. Japanese Proverbs, 1893. 

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Negris, Alexander. A Dictionary of Modem Greek 
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NicoLSON, Alexander, A Collection of Gaelic Proverbs 
and Familiar Phrases, Edinburgh and London, 1881. 

Palmer, Samuel. Moral Essays on Some of the Most 
Curious and Significant English, Scotch, and Foreign 
Proverbs, London, 17 10. 

Paybn, Payne De V. French Idioms and Proverbs, Lon- 
don, 1900. 

Percival, p. Tamil Proverbs, Madras, 1874. 

Ramsay, Allan. A Collection of Scots Proverbs, Edin- 
burgh and Glasgow, 1797. 

X Curiosities in Proverbs 

Rapaport, Samuel. Tales and Maxims from the Midrash, 

London and New York, 1907. 
Ray, John. A Complete Collection of English Proverbs. 

Various Editions. 
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and Chicago, 1906. 
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on the Book of Proverbs. New York, 1908. 
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Turkish Proverbs. Published by the Armenian Monaster 

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London and New York, 1886. 
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Wortabet, John. Arabian Wisdom. New York, 1910. 


The Celtic Review. 

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Folk-Lore Journal (London). March, 1885; January, 


Gypsy and Folk-Lore Gazette. 19 13, 19 14. 

The Journal of American Folk-Lore, September, 19 12. 

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1900; November and December, 1905. 
Notes and Queries, Various Numbers. 

Curiosities in Proverbs 


A PROVERB, according to Webster, is "An old 
and common saying, a phrase or expression 
often repeated." Old it must be and common, 
for a verbal statement, no matter how wise or 
witty it may be, rarely becomes a proverb until 
it is certified by the voice of the people. 

Three hundred and fifty years ago John Hey- 
wood said that every proverb had the three 
essential characteristics of brevity, sensibility, 
and saltness; but one from Scotland contains 
thirty-nine words, one from Germany fifty- 
seven, one from India sixty-two, one from 
Hindustan sixty-three, and one from China 
ninety-six. The Arabs are very fond of group- 
ing objects in their sayings and not infrequently 
use from twenty to forty words in giving expres- 
sion to their thoughts. 

As for sensibility, what reason is there in the 

Italian phrase, **He has done like the Perugian 

who, when his head was broken, ran home for a 

helmet," or the Scotch sentence, "Wipe wi' 


7 Curiosities in Ptoverbs 

the water and wash wi' the towel," or the Hindu- 
stani proverbial question, "If your wife becomes 
a widow who will cook for you?" or the Greek 
adage, "Shave an egg and take its hair?" 

If proverbs are not necessarily short nor 
sensible they may possess the characteristic 
quality of saltness, at least in the sense of the 
old Arabian saying, "A proverb is to speech 
what salt is to food." 

Lord Chesterfield, who was fastidious about 
dress and deportment, declared that a man of 
fashion never had recotirse to proverbs and 
vulgar aphorisms; yet many wise and useful 
people have, like Solomon, "pondered and 
sought out and set in order" many of them. 


Some of the proverbial phrases in common 
use today are very old, dating back into remote 
antiquity — tQ the time of Kalidasa, the Hindu 
dramatist; ^sop, the wise fabtdist; the seven 
sages of Greece; Homer, the epic poet, and 
Aristotle, the philosopher. Six hundred years 
ago men admonished each other that "One 
should not look a gift horse in the mouth." 
Two thousand years ago they repeated the 
saying, "A fool shineth no longer than he hplds 
his tongue," and five thousand years ago they 
declared that "He that is wrong fights against 
himself." Long before the coming of Christ 


Introduction 5 

the people of the Orient were repeating our 
familiar adages, **One sheep follows another," 
A good life is better than high birth," and 
The road has ears, so have walls," which last 
sajring gave rise to our familiar maxim — "Walls 
have ears." During the time of Moses people 
compared their mighty hunters to Nimrod and 
their men of character and prowess to their 

Men of old did not call the words of their 
sages proverbs but referred to them as ** sayings," 
"parables," "the words of the wise" and "the 
sayings of the ancients," yet in all essential 
particulars they were the same. 

The old Romans were as fond of declaring that 
" He who chases two hares catches neither, " and 
the Greeks were as sure that "One swallow 
does not make a summer," as we are today. 
Csesar, we are told, exclaimed "The die is 
cast!" as he urged his charger through the 

Shakespeare's plays abound in proverbial 
quotations; Scott familiarized himself with the 
phrases in constant use by his countrymen and 
gave them expression in his novels; the preachers 
of the Reformation used the aphorisms of the 
people with telling effect in their warnings and 
exhortations; John Knox, Bishop Latimer, 
Jeremy Taylor, Matthew Henry, and a host of 
others clinched their arguments and pointed 
their lessons with well chosen proverbs. 

4 Curiosities in Proverbs 


They are, as has been declared, "The safest 
index of the inner life of the people." Historians 
may record a nation's political growth and tell 
of the conflicts that gave strength and per- 
manency to its institutions, but they cannot 
make known perfectly the thoughts of the 
people, nor indicate the intellectual status, 
moral standards, and social ideals of a com- 
munity, save as they are able to conduct 
their readers in spirit into the very presence 
of those of whom they write and cause them 
to hear the voices of the street, the home, and 
the shopy* It may be that a certain degree of 
crudity will be found in the language that is 
heard, but that is because the men who speak 
are crude; the "voice of the multitude" is 
never the voice of the schools. Prom the 
study of the proverbs current in Jerusalem 
when Solomon reigned as King, Dr. Thomson 
was able to give an accurate and interesting 
description of the social life of the people in 
that city. 

But proverbs are more than an index of men's 
lives; they are also the record of their vocabulary, 
so that it is unsafe to leave them out of considera* 
tion in studying the language of any community. 
This fact is indicated by the different forms that 
adages take when used by people in widely 
separated districts, ^ 

Introductioii S 


Sometimes the meaning of a proverb is mis- 
understood because of ignorance regarding its 
origin, change of form through repetition, appU- 
cation to certain conditions, its use in widely 
separated communities, or the altered significance 
of words, so that it often becomes necessary in 
searching for the exact meaning of a saying to 
study not only the history of the times in which it 
became current or was most popular, but also 
the language, literature, folk-lore, songs, and 
superstitions of the people. Not infrequently 
the physical condition of the district where it 
was first used has to be known in order to dis- 
cover its exact significance. ''Proverbs," said 
Joseph Parker, **are condensed philosophies; 
sometimes proverbs are condensed histories; 
sometimes the interpretation of a proverb seems 
to lie a long way from what is most obvious in 
its mere letter." 


Few people who have not given particular at- 
tention to the subject realize to what extent pro- 
verbs are quoted throughout the Bible. While 
Solomon wrote three thousand, some of which 
are preserved, the prophets and chroniclers of 
Israel quoted a large number, and it is not un- 
reasonable to believe that many of the phrases 

6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

and similes attributed to the inspired writers 
were familiar to the people and were in their 
nature proverbial. 

During the period covered by Old-Testament 
history proverbs were not only employed in the 
affairs of every-day life but possessed an author- 
ity that is not given to them at the present time. 
They were often accepted as a final appeal. 
**The words of the ancients" were '*the words 
of the wise" and therefore true. That is not to 
assume that they were always followed, for 
there were perverse and self-willed men then 
as now who refused to receive instruction, as we 
learn from Prov. xxvi : 7-9. 

A striking feature of Old-Testament proverbis 
is their seriousness. Being to a large extent 
based on Israelitish law and expressing dire 
judgment on evil-doers, they were useful both for 
admonition and warning. The Hebrews re- 
garded themselves ae set apart by God as a 
peculiar people, a holy nation; they would there- 
fore naturally feel that the trivial and htunorous 
sayings of the street would be out of place Or 
quoted in their sacred books. 

Of all the proverbs of the Bible those attri- 
buted to Solomon have received the most atten- 
tion, not only because of their truthfulness and 
practicability, but also because they form per- 
haps the oldest extended collection of maxims 
in existence. Though Solomon's "wisdom 
excelled the wisdom of the children of the East 

Introduction 7 

and all the wisdom of Egypt " and "he was wiser 
than all men," comparatively few of his sayings 
have been preserved. Of the three thousand 
that are attributed to him, scarcely eight hundred 
are found in the Scriptures. Some of the old 
Rabbinical scholars were fond of believing that 
those on record admitted of a double and triple 
interpretation and were therefore nearly if not 
quite equal in number to three thousand. 

Unlike the proverbs of India, that are largely 
agricultural, the sayings of Solomon are for the 
most part precepts of the town and reflect 
conditions incident to city life; furthermore they 
differ from others in that they were the produc- 
tion of one man and did not take their rise from 
the "voice of the multitude." 

Solomon was a king and spoke as a king; his 
counsels were not so much the counsels of a man 
to his fellow men as of a sovereign to his subjects. 
His station and wisdom gave him a wide hearing 
and his words were repeated as words of author- 
ity. Possessing a well informed mind, superior 
judgment, and a wide knowledge of men and 
thinigs, he took a broad view of life and was 
able to speak of many objects, of trees, herbs, 
beasts, birds, fishes, and creeping things (I Kings 
iv : 33), throwing his observations in the form of 

Most of the proverbs quoted in this volume 
from the Old Testament are those of Solomon 
and show the general characteristics and forms 

8 Curiosities in Ptoverbs 

of sayings used among the people of the East. 
They bear a striking resemblance to the aphor- 
isms of the roving Arabs. Solomon was wise 
not merely in what he said hn^ in the way he 
expressed himself. Whether his adages were 
adaptations of maxims current at the time, as 
some suppose, or were original with him, he was 
able to speak in a way that he knew would appeal 
to his contemporaries. The Jews have always 
held them in high esteem and the Christian 
Church has regarded them as unrivalled among 
the counsels of men. They are not only wonder- 
ful as literary productions and wise precepts, but 
**they bear," as Philip SchaflE declared, "the 
stamp of divine wisdom and inspiration." 


The writers of the New Testament were not 
only familiar with the sayings of the Rabbis, but 
with many Grecian, Indian, Babylonian, and 
Persian aphorisms that had come into common 
use among the people. Homer, iEsop, Solon, 
Aristotle, and others had introduced a large 
number of adages to the Jews of Palestine and 
the number was increased by the addition of 
such as were wrought out of daily experience. 
Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was undoubt- 
edly in the habit of quoting them; thus the 
logia of the Hebrew sages, the aphorisms of the 
wise, and the sajdngs of the town's people would 

Introduction 9 

be heard by Jesus in His childhood and youth 
and would be used by Him in His intercourse 
with men; furthermore the quotation of proverbs 
in public instruction was common among 
teachers, particularly when addressing large 
assemblies. Jesus was a man among men; His 
language was that of the home and the street and 
the "conmion people heard him gladly." Those 
who listened to His words wondered not so 
much that He repeated the precepts of every-day 
life, for that was expected, as that he was able to 
so transfigure them by spiritual application that 
they seemed to have a new beauty and power. 

The Sermon on the Mount has many phrases 
that are now used as proverbs; some of them may 
have been similarly used in Jesus* day and have 
been quoted by Him. We know that after 
talking with the Samaritan woman by Jacob's 
well He repeated to His disciples the saying, 
"One soweth and another reapeth," and that at 
other times He said, *'No prophet is accepted in 
his own country " and ''Physician, heal thyself." 
It is not unlikely that when He declared that 
His generation was like children in the market- 
place who called to their companions, **We have 
piped unto you and you have not danced," He 
quoted a familiar saying taken from iEsop's 
fable of *'The Fisherman Piping." 

The use of proverbs was natural to JesuSj not 
only because they were apt and authoritative, 
but also because they were picturesque and 

lo Curiosities in Ptoverbs 

suggestive. They were germs of allegories and 
He loved to enforce His teachings with stories of 
life familiar to His countrjrmen. Many of His 
parables, as well as those spoken by the Rabbis, 
might well be amplifications of existing proverbs. 
Men of the East have always been fond of both 
forms of speech, and it is not strange that some 
confusion should have arisen in referring to them 
as though they were the same. (See Ps. Ixxviii : 
2; Matt, xxiv: 32; Mark iii: 23; Luke iv: 23; v: 
36; John x: 6; xvi: 25, 29.) 

David Smith, in his recent life of Christ, refers 
to thirty or forty proverbs found in the New 
Testament that were either quoted by Jesus or 
the Jews in conference with Him. 

It is the same with the writers of the Epistles: 
they quoted freely from the sayings of the people 
and used phrases that were proverbs in process 
of formation. 


The student of proverbs is often surprised to 
find among the familiar sayings of non-Christian 
nations phrases that teach lessons closely re- 
sembling those that are found in the Bible. In 
some cases the form is almost identical. This 
is explained by the influence of missionaries, 
foreign residents, and tourists, and by the fact 
that the law of righteousness is written in the 
hearts of all men. (Rom. i : 18-23.) 

Introduction II 

Speaking of the apparent reverence for sacred 
things among Orientals, W. M. Thomson, the 
missionary and traveller, says that it is quite 
common: ** No matter how profane, immoral, and 
even atheistical a man may be, yet will he, on all 
appropriate occasions, speak of God — the one 
God, our God — in phrases the most proper and 
pious. " * * We are abashed and confounded in the 
presence of such holy talkers," said he, **and 
have no courage, or rather have too much 
reverence for sacred things to follow them in 
their glib and heartless verbiage. The fact is, I 
suppose, that Oriental nations, although they 
sank into various forms of idolatry, never lost 
the phraseology of the pure original theosophy." 

L> Persia it is common to speak of a place of 
safety as "Noah's Ark" and call the babblings 
of a boaster "Moses* Rod," and in Turkey the 
people refer to men who uncomplainingly await 
the development of events as possessing "the 
patience of Job," and indicate the great an- 
tiquity of events or monuments by saying that 
they belong to "the age of Moses." 

It must be remembered that many, if not 
most, Eastern proverbs and phrases that seem 
to indicate familiarity with the Bible came into 
existence through the medium of the Koran. 

Such phrases as "To rob Peter to pay Paul" 
and "Nothing so deaf as an adder" have trav- 
elled from one land to another until they have 
become almost universal in their use and are 

12 Curiosities in Proverbs 

quoted by thousands of people without any 
clear perception of their source or original 

Reference has been made to the presence of 
Indian, Persian, Babylonian, and Greek sayings 
that were in use in Palestine during the early 
part of the first century; others were carried by 
the Israelites from Egypt; others were borrowed 
from the nations that they subdued, and others 
were introduced by the Romans, so that a large 
number of those that are called Biblical were 
used long before the writers of the Testaments 
quoted them in their chronicles. It is therefore 
possible that many of the aphorisms of non- 
Christian nations that seem to be borrowed from 
the Bible may antedate the scriptural record. 

Biblical phrases and references used as 
proverbs in England, Scotland, France, Ger- 
many, Holland, Spain, and other lands, that 
indicate a knowledge of the Christian faith, are 
for the most part mere paraphrases or allusions 
to scripture passages. 

Notwithstanding the large number of proverbs 
that seem to be suggested by the Bible, there are 
comparatively few that contain a direct religious 
appeal. Mr. F. Edward Hulme in his Proverb 
Lore gives as a reason that such appeals are 
somewhat outside the function of proverbs and 
on a higher plane. "The wisdom of proverbs," 
he says, "concerns itself more with time than 
with eternity, though the advocacy of truth and 

Introductioii 13 

honottr, the exposure of knavery, the importance 
of right judgment, and many other points that 
make for the right are contributary to the higher 


Nearly all proverbs are man-made; women 
have had little or no part in forming them except 
so far as they have influenced the opinions of 
their male companions. Many of them refer to* 
feminine traits and obligations, but only as they 
are considered by men. The few that reflect the 
feminine mind are generally found in sections 
of the world where women are held in most 

The great mass of familiar sayings are expres- 
sions of worldly wisdom; some are often selfish 
and even coarse, but on the other hand there are 
many that appeal to the highest manhood, as, 
for example: **A hundred years cannot repair a 
moment's loss of honotir" (French); **An honest 
man does not make himself a dog for the sake of 
a bone " (Danish) ; *' Catch not at the shadow and 
lose the substance" (English); "To the wasp we 
must say 'neither thy honey nor thy sting'" 
(Hebrew); *'He who makes himself bran is 
picked by hens" (Arabian); "Better poor with 
honour than rich with shame" (Dutch); "Con- 
scious guilt will fret the heart" (Tamil). 

Not only do proverbs sometimes conmiend 

14 Curiosities in Proverbs 

virtue and honour, but there are not a few that 
are so graceful in form and beautiful in thought 
that it seems as though they might be lines or 
couplets taken from the forgotten songs of by- 
gone days, or perhaps from the writings of some 
unknown poet. Take, for example, such as 
these: **The heart has its summer and its 
winter" (Osmanli); "Husband and wife in 
perfect accord are the music of the harp and 
lute" (Chinese); **A widow is a rudderless 
boat" (Chinese); **An old man in love is like a 
flower in winter" (Portuguese); **Qrey hairs 
are death's blossoms" (English); **The almond 
tree is in flower " — ^referring to the silver loc&xrf 
the aged (Hebrew); ** Death is a black camel 
which kneels at every man's. ,gate" (Turkish); 
** Heaven is at the feet of mothers" (Persian); 
** Unfading are the gardens of kindness" 

The most beautiful proverbs came from the 
Orient, where the temperament of the people 
leads to contemplation, and where men have 
time to spend in shaping their precepts and 

One who has lived much among the wandering 
Arabs says that they **are extremely partial to a 
kind of rhythm and, even in prose, string together 
words and short sentences which terminate in 
similar sounds"; but these children of the desert 
do not depend on rhythm. Living beneath the 
open sky where the silence is profotmd and 

< ' 

Introduction 15 

nature is overpowering they have learned to 
express themselves in bold imagery and often 
with wondrous beauty. The Persians and 
Chinese, as well as the Arabs, delight in phrasing 
their thoughts in poetical language. 

It is difl5cult to translate an Eastern proverb 
and retain its beauty. The meaning may be 
given with a reasonable degree of accuracy, 
but the underlying thought and graceful ar- 
rangement of words can be seen only when it 
is read in the original. Oriental phrases that 
seem in their translation to be commonplace 
similes and simple truisms often possess unusual 

There are certain subjects that everywhere 
lend themselves to serious consideration and 
graceful expression. Men cannot speak lightly 
of the feebleness of old age, the certainty of 
death, nor of their personal relation to God; they 
cannot connect maxims that commend worldly 
sagacity and business cunning with the flight of 
time, the nearness of eternity, or the obligations 
of morality and religion. "Of proverbs," said 
Emerson, "although the greater part have so 
the smell of current bank-bills that one seems 
to get the savour of all the market-men's pockets, 
and no lady's mouth may they soil, yet are some 
so beautiful that they may be spoken by fairest 
lips unblamed; and this is certain — ^that they 
give comfort and encouragement, aid and 
abetting to daily action." 

i6 Curiosities m Proverbs 


Wit and humour in proverbs are common 
with men who live in favoured lands. There is 
wisdom as well as pleasure in quoting an adage 
for instruction that is likely to be received with a 
laugh or a smile, and it is no wonder that in 
countries where there are liberty and opportunity 
a large number of such adages should be in use. 
It is, however, diflferent where misrule and oppres- 
sion depress the spirits of the people, or where the 
struggle for existence is so severe that life is 
filled with danger. In such places there is an 
incongruity in pleasantries of speech, and wit and 
humour seem out of place. Yet even under such 
circumstances nature is true to herself, and in the 
face of the most adverse conditions men will 
sometimes quote an amusing aphorism and droll 
sayings wiU suddenly spring into popularity; 
indeed some of the wittiest phrases had their 
origin in times of distress and suflEering. Proverbs 
have been called **the tears of humanity," not 
because they are sad, for many are joyous; not 
because they are depressing, for many are filled 
with laughter, but because so many have made 
their appearance when the lives of the people 
were embittered by hard toil or made perilous by 
threatened injury and loss. It must, however, 
be remembered that a phrase first used with a 
serious purpose may afterward appear to be 
humorous because of ignorance concerning the 

Introduction 17 

drcumstances under which it was originally 
used and the habits of the people from whom it 
sprang. Social ideals and usages differ to so 
great an extent that the purposeful expressions 
of one community sometimes seem grotesque 
in another, and the foolish saws of one nation are 
taken for wise maxims by another. 

Witty proverbs spare no one; their shafts are 
sure to find vulnerable places in every man's 
life, whether he be a king or a beggar, a lord or a 
peasant, a master or a slave. Education, social 
standing, political influence, and even rehgious 
profession offer no protection; wherever there 
is a defect in character or conduct there is an 
opportunity, and an adage is easily foimd to 
expose or ridictde it. Sometimes the faults of 
individuals are charged to classes and many 
have to suffer for the shortcomings of few. The 
common people who make proverbs and give 
them currency are not only intolerant of hypo- 
crites, boasters, misers, gabblers, and fools, but 
are particularly severe on priests, physicians, 
and lawyers whom they ricScule fifh a plain- 
ness of speech that seems at times almost 
cruel. If a saying presents to the mind a 
ludicrous picture of inconsistency, disappoint- 
ment, or calamity it is appreciated all the 
more. What so absurd as the scenes suggested 
by the Behar observation, **The Kajar has 
gone to Bihar, while the wife has wide spread 
her eyelids," and the Persian phrase, "The 

1 8 Curiosities in Proverbs 

titmouse holds up its feet that the sky may not 
fall upon it." 


Nearly all contradictions in proverbs are 
caused by the different conditions under which 
men Kve. People form their opinions regarding 
the wisdom or foolishness of any particular 
course of action by the results as they are seen 
in the localities with which they are most famil- 
iar. Sometimes contradictions are caused by a 
changed emphasis in rendering and sometimes 
by incorrect repetition. 

Considering the different standards of Kfe in 
the world and the variety of social usages, it is 
not strange that there are many contradictions 
in the counsels of men; the wonder is that there 
are not more. The wisdom of one land is the 
foolishness of another. Even in the same 
community conditions change and men of 
unlike temperaments look at courses of action 
from different points of view. 
— ''Proverbial wisdom, it must be borne in 
mind," says Mr. Hulme, "deals sometimes with 
only one aspect of truth. The necessary brevity 
often makes the teaching one-sided, as the 
various limitations and exceptions that may be 
necessary to a complete statement of a truth 
are perforce left unsaid. One proverb therefore 
is often in direct contradiction to another and 

Introductioii 19 

yet each may be equally true. For example, 
Solomon tells us to 'Answer a fool according to 
his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit,' 
and he also tells us to 'Answer not a fool 
according to his folly, lest thou also be like 
unto him.' These two directions are placed 
one immediately after the other, of deliberate 
forethought, that the sharp contrast may force 
itself on the attention. The two modes of action 
are in direct contradiction, yet each is equally 
valuable in its place, and, according to circum- 
stances, one or other of them would be the right 
course to pursue. To the restless, unstable irian 
we may well quote the well-known adage, 'A 
rolling stone gathers no moss ' j/but, on the other 
hand, it is equally true that ^A tethered sheep 
soon starves.' While one villager is content to 
remain in the little hamlet where he was bom, 
living hardly throughout his life, the recipient 
of a scanty wage, of soup and blankets from the 
vicarage or the hall, and finally of a pauper 
grave, his schoolmate, the rolling stone, goes 
out into the big world and fights his way into a 
position of independence." 


"A man's life, " we are told, "is often built on 
a proverb." It is more certainly true that 
proverbs are built on men's lives and not only 
show their character and habits but their 

20 Curiosities in Proverbs 

occupations, whether they are sea-faring people, 
herdsmen, soldiers, agriculturists, tradesmen, or 
mountaineers. But, whatever the prevailing 
employment of any community, the people are 
always acquainted with animal life and are 
quick to observe in the appearances and traits 
of beasts and birds, and even fish, reptiles, and 
insects, resemblances to men. The docile sheep 
reminds them of obedient children or tractable 
servants; the strutting peacocks, with their 
large and beautiful tails, of gaudily dressed 
women; the rock-climbing goats, of bold ad- 
venturers; the cunning foxes, of unprincipled 
and shrewd tradesmen; the chirping crickets, of 
care-free merrymakers; and the slippery eels, of 
unreliable employees or dependents. This 
readiness to see resemblances everywhere shows 
itself in proverbial similes and comparisons — the 
man with a sluggish mind is "as stupid as an 
auk"; a cheerful companion is "as happy as 
a clam"; the headstrong youth is "as wild as a 
buck"; the diligent workman is "as busy as 
a bee"; the courageous soldier is "as brave as a 
lion"; the neighbour who is lean and tall of 
stature is "as gaunt as a greyhound." 

Men refer in their proverbs only to such 
animals as are well known in the locality where 
they live; thus the inhabitants of India find 
material for their maxims in the habits of the 
elephant and the cobra, while Englishmen find 
theirs in the traits of horses and cows, so that 

Introductioii 21 

one may secure much information regarding 
particular animals by studying the phrases 
current in the lands where they are seen. 

Dr. Thomson who was intimately acquainted 
with the roving Arabs thus alludes to the fre- 
quency with which they refer to the camel: 
** There is scarcely any limit," he declares, in 
The Land and the Booky "to the proverbs which 
have been derived from this patient slave and 
inseparable companion of the Arabs. Its size, 
and sex, age, colour, habits, diseases, accidents; 
its manifold uses; its milk and flesh, hair and 
hide; its huge hump, crooked, cliunsy legs, 
spongy feet, short tail, small ears, large, soft 
gazelle eyes, slit nose, sullen lips, prodigious 
mouth; its affection for its young, and for its 
master; its patience, docility, and mighty 
strength; its jealousy, stupidity, and ferocity; 
its manner of eating and drinking; its ability to 
endure thirst, to make long and swift journeys; 
its growling, biting, fighting, and other things 
camelish without limit — ^all are availed for 
proverbial purposes." 

Few people realize the extent to which animals 
are referred to in the common aphorisms of the 
world. One compiler collected more than five 
thousand animal proverbial phrases and there is 
little doubt but that the number could easily be 
doubled. A few are given in this volume with- 
out comment to indicate in some measure the 
range of such sayings. 

22 Ctiriosities in Proverbs 


While men of different lands vary in the 
expression of their thoughts and use figures of 
speech peculiar to themselves, human natiu'e is 
the same everywhere and repetitions are fre- 
quent so that the source of many well-known 
axioms is hidden from the knowledge of men. 
**The experiences of humanity," it has been 
said, "are like the molten metal upon which 
each nation stamps the cast of its own charac- 
teristics before they pass into currency as 
proverbs." Folk tales, historic incidents, and 
literary references sometimes indicate the na- 
tional setting of an adage and its form and 
use sometimes throw light on its source, yet no 
student of proverbs is ever fully qualified to tell 
whence every saying comes. 

The old Greeks were fond of making proverbs 
that contained references to their mythology, 
poetry, and history; while the Romans, though 
they often borrowed from the sayings of the 
Greeks, seldom referred to their gods and rarely 
used adages that were in the least degree poetic. 
They were a practical people and their aphorisms 
were for the most part direct and businesslike. 

The English, being enterprising and aggressive, 
created a large number of pithy expressions for 
their own use and appropriated many more 
from other people, particularly from the Romans. 
Skeat, in giving a list of three hundred and two 

Introduction 23 


early English proverbs, includes thirty-seven 
that were borrowed directly from classical 
sources, and remarks that others from the list 
might be found in Cicero, St. Augustine, St. 
Jerome, Pope Innocent III, and in the books of 
obscure writers. 

Scotch and Welsh proverbs naturally closely 
resemble those that are in use in England, par- 
ticularly in their practicability. As the English 
borrowed from the ancients, so the Scotch and 
Welsh borrowed from the English, and to meet 
their own needs changed the English forms of 
expression wherever it became necessary and 
added other apt 5a3dngs wrought out of their 
own experiences. The natural ruggedness of 
Scotland seems to have had an influence on the 
speech of the people, for their proverbs abound 
in direct, plain-spoken warnings and counsels. 
They are rarely elegant, not infrequently rough 
and even at times vulgar, though pure Gaelic 
proverbs are strikingly free from vulgarisms; 
on the other hand they are bright and witty, 
which atones for much of their harshness and 
shows the presence of good nature and a kindly 
spirit. The proverbs in common use among the 
Welsh are more religious than those that are 
found elsewhere. Apart from the sayings of the 
Jewish Rabbis, which make up the greater 
number of Hebrew proverbs, there are more 
Welsh phrases that are suggested by the Bible 
than can be found in any other part of the world. 


24 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Gaelic maxims closely resemble those spoken 
in the north of Ireland and in the Isle of Man 
owing to their Celtic origin. The sayings 
commonly quoted by the Scotch Highlanders 
may be classed among the best for they never 
commend wrong nor speak slightingly of virtue. 
In studying them one is impressed with their 
constant approval of industry, self-control, and 
kindness. Not a few are witty and some are 
flippant, but it is rare to find one that indicates 
a bitter or vindictive spirit. While the proverbs 
of other lands sometimes sneer at women, those 
spoken by the Highlanders refer to them as the 
honoured companions of the home and worthy 
of the highest respect. *'Who speaks ill of his 
wife dishonours himself, " is a Gaelic saying that 
reflects the tone of all the proverbs of the people. 

The French take great pains in forming their 
maxims and, though they are sometimes trifling 
and boastful and show conceit, they are sparkling 
and what may be called catchy. The French 
have always liked bright and glittering mots and 
clever turns of thought. 

The Italians like the French are inclined to use 
trifling phrases. Many commend honourable 
dealing and speak in the highest terms of virtue; 
some are extremely beautiful in thought and 
expression, but on the whole they lack serious- 
ness and are marred by selfish counsels, sus- 
picion, and revenge. "I think,*' said the elder 
Disraeli, **that every tenth proverb in an Italian 

Introduction 25 

collection is some cynical or some selfish maxim; 
a book of the world for worldlings.*' It is to be 
regretted that a greater emphasis should not be 
placed on confidence and consideration by the 
Italians in their sayings than on the duty of self- 
defence and the pleasure of retaliation for wrong. 

Spaniards are more grave in their adages than 
either the French or Italians — sometimes their 
expressions are so stately that it seems almost 
impossible that plain people should use them in 
conversation. They command attention by 
their thoughtfulness and have a certain charm 
by reason of their chivalrous spirit and gallantry, 
yet they are marred by an apparent disrespect for 

Hollanders, like Scotchmen, are fond of 
humour and so use it in their '* ways of speaking *' 
as to make their sayings very attractive. Many 
of their by-words and saws advise prudence and 
caution in dealing with men, showing that they 
are keen judges of human nature and watchful 
lest they be caught off their guard, and many 
commend industry and thrift. Yet on the whole 
they are characterized by a bold and daring 
spirit which is common to sea-faring folk. 

Russians seem to dislike long and playful 
proverbs for their sayings are terse and grim, 
often cynical and severe on women, Poles, and 
Jews. They show little humour though occa- 
sionally a facetious expression meets with 
favour among them. When humour is employed 

26 Curiosities in Proverbs 

in their proverbs it is apt to be dry and somewhat 

Arabians in Egypt use maxims which in the 
opinion of Archbishop Trench show ** selfishness 
and utter extinction of all public spirit, the 
servility which no longer as with an inward shame 
creeps into men's acts but utters itself boldly as 
the avowed law of their lives, the sense of the 
oppression of the strong, of the insecurity of the 
weak, and generally the whole character of life, 
alike outward and inward, as poor, mean, sordid, 
and ignoble, with only a few faintest glimpses of 
that romance which one usually attaches to the 
East." This description of Arabian maxims 
does not apply to the sayings of the roving Arabs 
of the desert but only such as are used about 
Cairo. Most of the Arabian proverbs found in 
this volume are taken from Burckhardt's collec- 
tion of Cairo sa3dngs. It is a melancholy fact 
that, in making his collection, Burckhardt tells 
us that he found but one saying that expressed 
any faith in human nature. The roving Arabs 
are more contemplative and take much time in 
forming their adages. They, in common with 
the people of Southern India and China, are 
fond of what is called grouping or cumulative 
proverbs. Many of the same character are 
found among the Hebrews and Scottish High- 
landers as well as among other people. The 
following will be sufficient in this place to indicate 
their nature: ** A generous man is nigh unto God 

Introduction 27 

nigh unto man, nigh unto Paradise, far from 
hell," and **For four things there is no recall — 
the spoken word, the arrow that sped from the 
bow, the march of fate, and time that is passed." 
The practice of entmierating many objects in 
proverbs is very ancient. 

The Bulgarians are sombre — sometimes almost 
despairing in their proverbs. It may be said of 
those that they quote, as Pencho Slaveikoff has 
said of their folk-songs, that ** There is but one 
feature common to them and that is the breath 
of heaviness. It is the breath of a stricken soul, 
stricken with the bludgeonings of fate." They 
are melancholy to the extreme and it is no 
wonder when their history is considered. None 
but men whose hearts were heavy could quote 
such phrases as these: *'God is not sinless, He 
created the world"; **In every village is the 
grave of Christ"; *'A long dark night — the 
year " ; '* The earth is man's only friend " ; ** God*s 
feet are of wool. His hands are of iron"; "If 
misfortune has not found you, wait a moment, 
you will find it"; **One guest hates another and 
the host hates both of them"; and **If a man is 
doomed to live medicine will be found always." 

The Japanese are lively and htunorous in 
their sayings and are fond of figurative expres- 
sions and similitudes. The use of pithy sentences 
is so general among them that Japan has been 
called **The Land of Proverbs." Though near 
neighbours to the Chinese their sayings are 

28 Curiosities in Proverbs 

much lighter and refer to conditions and things 
as they appear on the surface. 

The Chinese are thoughtful, dignified, seri- 
ous, and businesslike in their aphorisms. Their 
similes are sometimes very beautiful and their 
proverbial counsels strong. They are fond of 
philosophizing regarding the results of certain 
courses of action. The duty of virtuous conduct, 
morality, loyalty to friends, hospitality, and 
respect for parents and teachers is constantly 
emphasized in the common phrases of the people. 
One great fault of Chinese proverbs is their 
prolixity. Some of their sayings are very old, 
particularly those attributed to Confucius; 
many bear a strong resemblance to the maxims 
of the ancient Greeks. The Chinese rarely quote 
their proverbs thoughtlessly or in a flippant 
manner, for they hold them in great respect as 
'*the sayings of the wise." 

The people of India make frequent use of 
similes and are fond of throwing their set phrases 
in the form of questions. Mr. Christian's de- 
scription of Behar sayings is applicable to those 
used in other sections of India: ** There is a 
general absence in them of ^n elevating tone," 
he says — "a want of high ideal such as one would 
expect to find in the sayings of wisdom left by 
the sages of old. There is no ethical principle or 
choice moral maxim conveyed in them; they 
rather incline to selfishness and cynicism. Self- 
interest is their keynote and worldliness their 

Introduction 29 

one tune." In seeking a cause for this sordid 
characteristic he ventures the surmise that, 
*' Perhaps this is the natural outcome of a religion 
dissevered from morality and ages of grovelling 

Americans have few proverbs owing to the 
newness of the country and the fact that people 
from every land enter into the national life. 
So-called "American proverbs" are not strictly 
proverbs but phrases that have grown out of 
sectional conditions or peculiar circumstances. 
The Redmen — or Indians — had their favourite 
axioms that were commonly short and that indi- 
cated a prevailing bondage to superstition and 
suspicion of the good offices of men. Some were 
very shrewd but they were devoid of buoyancy 
or hopefulness. The early settlers brought the 
proverbs of their ancestors with them to their 
new homes. Those now in use in America are 
from other countries; the few that are cherished 
and used by the Creoles, and that seem peculiar 
to them, were for the most part brought from 
the home lands and paraphrased to conform to 
new conditions. Preference was given particu- 
larly to such as were picturesque, vivid, and 
witty. Some are grotesque in their new phrasing. 
Negro or plantation proverbs are uncouth, 
superstitious, and of narrow vision, but indicate a 
shrewd sense of human nature, a good judgment 
of men, and a ready grasp of humorous situa- 
tions. The Negroes are fond of laughing at 

30 Curiosities in Proverbs 

themselves and delight in giving a new and 
quaint rendering of some "white man's saying," 
never hesitating to use it on occasions even when 
it reflects on themselves. 

It must always be remembered that, while the 
proverbs of a nation indicate to a large extent 
the character of the people, "proverb making 
is not the same as proverb keeping,*' and men 
are "never kept right by proverbs.*' There are 
good people in lands where evil maxims abound 
and depraved men in sections where exhortations 
to virtue and morality are common. 


It has been thought strange that intelligent 
people should make the weather a topic of 
conversation. "When folks have nothing to 
talk about, " says a German proverb, "they talk 
about the weather," but wise men as well as 
fools discuss changes in atmospheric conditions, 
for comfort and health often depend on rain 
or sunshine, heat or cold. It takes but little 
knowledge of human nature to understand the 
marked influence that the "way of the wind" 
has on the temper of men. "Do business with 
men when the wind is in the north-west," and 
"When the wind is in the east 'tis good for 
neither man nor beast," are adages in common 
use. Furthermore, the success or failure of 
hvunan undertaking is often dependent on clear 

Introduction 31 

or cloudy skies. Emerson once said in justifi- 
cation of conversation on the subject of the 
weather: "We are pensioners of the wind. The 
weathercock is the wisest man. All our pros- 
perity, enterprise, temper, come and go with the 
fickle air." 

So much depends on the heat and cold, clouds 
and winds and mists, that men have sought 
for centuries to discover their meaning, and as 
a result thousands of weather proverbs have 
taken form and been repeated by succeeding 

Most of them are based on local conditions or 
prevailing superstitions or have been formed 
from a limited knowledge of physical causes, and 
are therefore unreliable; but that does not justify 
the condemnation of all nor warrant the sneer 
that they are nothing more than '' fossil wisdom." 
A large number are trustworthy, particularly 
those that relate to the near future. *'Some are 
nuggets of pure gold, "says Dr. Humphreys of 
the United States Weather Bureau, *'for they 
correctly state the actual order of sequence, as 
determined by innumerable observations, even 
when the cause for such an order was not in the 
least understood by those who discovered it." 

Some thirty years ago the United States 
Government thought weather proverbs of suffi- 
cient importance to gather a large number from 
all parts of the country and publish the collec- 
tion in a volume of 148 pages. 

32 Curiosities in Proverbs 


/ Though there are many old sayings that relate 

to health they are less numerous than those 
referring to the weather. Those that advise 
self-control in eating and drinking, the avoidance 
of unnecessary exposure, and the danger of evil 
habits are worthy of the highest commendation, 
but most of the health proverbs are valueless, 
having come into use when medical science was 
crude and people depended to a great extent on 
signs and omens. 

It is amusing to read that when the night- 
caps were worn men gravely said: "Cover yotir 
head by day as much as you will, by night as 
much as you can " ; yet there was a reason for the 
admonition, as draughts of cold air constantly 
found their way through the cracks and crevices 
of houses. In old Spain people who early in 
the spring substituted light-weight clothing for 
heavy winter garments were warned of the dan- 
ger through the adage, "He that would be healthy 
must wear his winter clothing in simamer,*' 
meaning that the adoption of summer clothing 
should be delayed until late in the season. The 
wiseacres of Prance once admonished the young 
that, "To rise at five, dine at nine, sup at five, 
go to bed at nine, makes a man live ninety and 
nine," sometimes varying the form by saying, 
"To rise at six, eat at ten, sup at six, go to bed 
at nine, makes a man live ten times ten.** The 

Introduction 33 

people of Hindustan had an adage that ''He 
that eats mot (i.e., vitches) is strong and able to 
storm a fort." The Tamil peasants were sure 
that "No matter what may be eaten, if four 
dates are taken afterwards the whole will be 
digested," and some advised, "When a severe 
illness comes eat bread and onions." 


The more ignorant the community, the more 
absolutely it depends on signs and omens; 
savages are always slaves to their fancies. When 
people in favoured lands quote proverbs that are 
based on superstition they do so with hesitancy 
or with a smile, knowing that they appeal to the 
credulity of their hearers. Nearly all the super- 
stitions of civilized communities are inheritances 
of the past. It is not strange that men, unable 
to explain the laws of nature, shotdd attribute 
the evils of life to supernatural influences. 
"Superstitions are the shadows of great truths." 
The minds of our forefathers were haunted with 
the belief that the unseen world was inhabited 
by fairies, goblins, and devils who busied them- 
selves with the affairs of men. Even God, whose 
love is as the Ught, was thought by them to be 
moved by caprice and often visited good and 
evil on His children according to their faithful- 
ness in the use of charms and auguries. It is 
no wonder that in medieval times many people 
permitted themselves to be dominated by fears 

34 Curiosities in Proverbs 

and forebodings. "He who looks for freets, " says 
an old Scotch proverb, *' freets will follow him." 
As a result of the prevalence of superstition 
in the days of our forefathers and its present 
dominant influence in uncivilized lands, a multi- 
tude of rhymes and proverbs have come into use 
as warnings against injury from unseen powers 
and as precepts regarding "lucky" and "un- 
lucky" times and procedures. 


Reference has been made to the use of similes 
and cofnparisons and to the grouping of objects 
in familiar sayings. Other forms are no less 
striking, as, for example, the Tamil practice of 
prefixing "It is said" to many adages, and the 
almost universal liking for aphorisms in the 
form of questions, as when the Persians ask 
"Why do those who preach repentance seldom 
repent?" and the Kashmiri people, suffering 
under oppression, inquire "What answer will 
the meat give to the knife?" As questions call 
for answers, a large number of what may be 
termed "retorting proverbs" have become 
popular; thus in Scotland when one shows too 
much inquisitiveness regarding another's charac- 
ter or property he is told to "Ask the tapster if 
his ale is gude," and in Bengal when a man 
thinks of seeking aid from an improvident person 
his friends will say "He has a pot, but no 
camphor in it. " 

Introduction 35 

Proverbs are frequently expressed in a way 
that indicate they are intended to be derisive. 
Men will sneer at their fellow men, taunt them 
and make sarcastic remarks regarding them, no 
matter how unkind and unwise it may be for 
them to do so. Thus the Osmanli peasants say 
**The excellent dog bites his master," when re- 
ferring to one who seeks his own advantage in 
serving another, and the native of Hindustan 
repeats the phrase — "For beauty, a camel; for 
singing, an ass," when wishing to describe a 
neighbour whom he dislikes. 

Not infrequently quotations are used, as when 
the Scotch say, ***Mair haste the waur speed,' 
quo' the wee tailor to the lang thread, " and the 
Chinese declare that "Confucius said, *A man 
without distant care must have near sorrow. * " 

More curious than the embodiment of quota- 
tions is the throwing of a proverb into the form 
of conversation. In Southern India, for example, 
we find the following: "The owl and the hen 
waited together for the morning; 'The light is 
of use to me,' said the hen; 'But of what use is it 
to you ?' " — ^and in Arabia : "The mouse fell from 
the roof. 'Take some refreshments,' said the 
cat. 'Stand thou off,' was the reply." 

Rhyming proverbs are popular everywhere, 
for they give the impression of authority and 
have a certain charm because of their usual 
quaintness; furthermore, they are easily re- 
membered. English couplets such as these are 

36 Curiosities in Proverbs 

familiar: "A stitch in time saves nine"; ** Birds 
of a feather flock together"; ** Truth may be 
blamed, but shall never be shamed"; "A friend 
in need is a friend in deed"; **What cannot be 
cured must be endiu-ed"; and "Some go to law 
for the wagging of a straw." 

"That we like what is like is attested by a 
thousand facts," said Archbishop Trench; so 
we have a multitude of rhjnning proverbs that 
are quoted by all classes of men in all parts of the 
world. It is often difficult to translate them and 
preserve their exact meanings, and even when 
good English renderings are secured they are 
apt to be without the charm that belonged to the 
originals. Isaac Disraeli has well said of rhym- 
ing proverbs, "Some appear to have been the 
favourite lines of some ancient poem," and he 
further reminds us that "Many of the pointed 
verses of Boileau and Pope have become 


Among sayings that appeal to all classes, 
particularly to children and young people, are 
what may be called whimsical proverbs. In the 
past, when education was less general than now, 
people delighted in quoting sentences that con- 
tained some 'concealed shaft of humour, hidden 
meaning, or verbal quibble that called for quick- 
ness of thought in order to perceive their signi- 
ficance and aim, or that attracted attention 

Introductioii 37 

because of their unusual choice or arrangement 
of words. Sometimes the saying was in the 
form of an alliteration, as, for example, "Provi- 
dence provides for the prudent" and "As fit as 
a fritter for a friar's mouth"; sometimes it was 
a mere catch expression, as when the English 
said, "In a shoulder of veal there are twenty 
and two good bits," meaning that though there 
are twenty bits in a shoulder of veal, there are 
only two that are good; or when the natives of 
Hindustan declared that "One and one make 
eleven," or when the modern Greeks ask, 
"Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, 
whom had they for a father?" Sometimes it 
was a play on words, as when in Scotland it was 
said that "May-be's are na aye honey bees," 
in Wales that "The butter is in the cow's 
horns," and in America that "Sherry cobblers 
mend no shoes." 

There are many forms of whimsical proverbs, 
but nearly all are based on some unusual arrange- 
ment of words or are of the nature of puns and 
riddles and are of a humorous nature. 


Proverbs are often carried from one land to 
another by emigrants, tourists, missionaries, 
tradesmen, and seamen. When appropriated by 
natives they take a form adapted to their new 
surroundings. As changes of clothing do not 
alter men's characters, so modifications in form 

38 Curiosities in Proverbs 

do not affect the intent of a proverb. The 
English saying, ''A bird in the hand is worth 
two in the bush," has the same significance as 
the Scotch, **A bird in the hand's worth twa 
fleein' by," the Italian, "A bird in the cage is 
worth a hundred at large," the Persian, "A 
sparrow in the hand is better than a crane in the 
air," the Arabian, -'A thousand cranes in the 
air are not worth one sparrow in the fist," and 
the French and Irish, ** Better a wren in the 
hand than a crane in the air." 

The tendency of proverbs to travel from one 
land to another has rendered it impossible to 
tell whence many familiar sayings came and 
every attempt to ascertain their origin has 
proved unavailing. Not a few attributed to the 
old Greeks and Romans and the sages of Persia 
and India may have been quoted by them from 
the aphorisms of the market-places; yet there 
remain a multitude of unfamiliar **ways of 
speaking," that can easily be traced to the 
place from which they sprang by their formation 
and the peculiar conditions of life to which they 

No attempt has been made in this book to add 
another collection of proverbs to the large 
number that have been prepared by students of 
antiquity, but rather to take advantage of their 
researches and select and classify a suflScient 
number of authenticated adages, maxims, aphor- 

Introductioii 39 

isms, phrases, and other popular dicta, to show 
the forms and grouping to which the common 
sayings of men are liable, and to add thereto such 
explanations, notes, and quotations as may be 
useful or interesting. 

The original rendering of the various proverb- 
ial quotations has not been given, as by doing so 
the size of the volume would be greatly enlarged 
without increasing its value to the general 
reader; but care has been taken to use only such 
translations as have been approved by collectors 
whose competency is beyond question. 

Sa3dngs that belong to several of the classes 
enumerated have generally been given but once 
to avoid repetition. The language or dialect 
indicated in parentheses after each proverb is not 
intended to show its exclusive use but rather to 
show its most pronounced national affiliation. 
While many of the sayings are spoken in no other 
tongue than that indicated, others are used by 
many people in many lands. 

It is hoped that the book will be found in- 
teresting and suggestive, and that through it the 
reader may become better acquainted with the 
life and purposes of men in other lands and other 
ages than his own. 

"In whatever language it may be written, 
every line, every word is welcome, that bears 
the impress of the early days of mankind." — 


A good maziiii is never out of seaton. (English). 

A maabecaisse of his own likeness should learn this saying: 
'^As rain to the parched field, so is meat to one 
oppressed with hnnger.'' (Sanskrit). 

Used in the Hitopadesa to enforce the truth as 
taught in the fable of "The Traveller and the 

A man's life is often boHded on a proverb. (Hebrew). 

"There is hardly a mistake which in the course of 
our lives we have committed but some proverb, 
had we known and attended to its lesson, might 
have saved us from it." — Archbishop Trench. 

A proverb deceives not; the heavens fall not. (German), i 

" The people's voice the voice of God we call ; \ 

And what are proverbs but the people's voice? 
Coined first, and current made by conmion dioice? 
Then sure they must have weight and truth 
withaL " — Anonymous, 

A proverb is an ornament to language. (Persian). 

"Proverbs serve not only for ornament and delight, 
but also for active and civil use; as being the 
edge tools of speech which cut and penetrate 
the knots of business and affairs. " — Bacon. 

"Proverbs are mental gems gathered in the diamond 
fields of the mind.' —IF. R, Alger. 

A proverb is the horse of conversation; when the conversa- 
tion is lost (f .«., flags}, a proverb revives it. Proverbs 
and conversation follow each other. (Yoruba— 
West African). 


42 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A proTerb is to speech what salt is to food. (Arabic). 

"Language would be tolerable without spicy, 
epigrammatic sayings, and life could no doubt 
be carried on by means of plain language wholly 
bereft of ornament; but if we wish to relish 
language, if we wish to give it point and piquancy, 
and if we want to drive home a truth, to whip up 
the flagging attention of our listener, to point a 
morad or adorn a tale, we must flavour our speech 
with proverbs." — John Christian. 

"A{)horism or maxim, let us remember- that this 
wisdom of life is the true salt of literature; that 
those books, at least in prose, are most nourishing 
which are most richly stored with it; and that it 
is one of the great objects, apart from the mere 
acquisition of knowledge, which men ought to 
seek, in the reading of books. " — John Morley. 

A proTerb lies not; its sense only deceives. (German). 

"Every proverb speaketh sooth 
Dreams and omens mask the truth. ** 

As a thorn that goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a 
parable in the mouth of fools. (Hebrew). 

"As a thorny staff that riseth up in the hand of a 
drunkard, so is a proverb in the mouth of a fool. *' 
— Lange's Translation ofProv, xxvi : 9. 

As the country, so the proverb. (German). 

"A nation's proverbs arc as precious as its ballads, 
as useful and perhaps more instructive." — (Lon- 
don Quarterly Review^ July, 1868.) 

" The genius, wit, and spirit of anation are discovered 
in its proverbs. " — Francis Bacon. 

"The proverbs of a nation furnish the index to its 
spirit and the results of its civilization. " — J. G. 

"Proverbs, like the sacred books of each nation, 
are the sanctuary of the institutions." — Ralph 
Waldo Emerson. 

A wise man who knows proverbs reconciles diflculties* 
(Yoruba — ^West African). 

Proverbs about Proverbs 43 

Don't quote your proverb till you bring your ship into port 

Good sayings are like pearls strung together. (Chinese). 

He is the proverb of the age. (Persian). 

Applied to people of distinction, particularly to 
those who have become known because of the 
evil that they have done. 

He reads us proverbs about the wolf. (Osmanli). 

That is he carries out his purpose by trickery and 
by direct assault. 

If St. Switfain greets this year, the proverb says, the 
weather will be foul for forty days. (English). 

The Scotch rendering of this rhyme leaves out the 
words "this year. 

St. Swithin's day (July 15th) is observed as a 
festival day in honour of St. Swithin, Bishop of 
Winchester, England — a.d. 852-862. 

It is a proverb: ** Can he be a man if the personage be a 
viziw?" (Osmanli). 

Can he be a man who receives favours from a 
vizier? Will not the vizier require of him a 
subserviency that will deprive lum of his man- 

Proverbs are the children of experience. (English). 

"Proverbs are the daughters of daily experience." 

Proverbs are the lamps to words. (Arabian). 

"As naething helps our happiness mair than to have 
the mind made up wi' right principles, I desire 
you, for the thriving and pleasure of you and 
yours, to use your een and lend your lugs to these 
guid auld saws, that shine wi' wail'd sense, 
and will as lang as the world wags." — AUan 



44 Curiosities in ProTerbs 

PcoFerbs ar« the wisdom of fhe ages. (German). 

"Proverbs were anterior to books, and formed the 
wisdom of the vulgar, and in the earliest ages 
were the unwritten laws of morality." — Isaac 

Proverbs are the abridgments of wisdom." — 
Joseph Joubert. 

Books, like proverbs, receive their chief value 
from the stamp and esteem of ages through 
which they have passed." — WiUiam Temple. 

" Centuries have not worm-eaten the solidity of this 
ancient furniture of the mind." — Isaac Disraeli, 

" Despise not the discourse of the wise, but acquaint 
thyself with their proverbs, "for of them thou 
shalt learn instruction, and how to serve great 
men with ease. " — Ecdes, viii : 8. 

"In ancient days, tradition says. 

When knowledge was much stinted — 
When few could teach and fewer preach, 

And books were not yet printed — 
What wise men thought, by prudence taught, 

They pithily expounded; 
And proverbs sage, from age to age, 

In every mouth abound^. 
O Blessings on the men of 3rore, 

Whom wisdom thus augmented, 
And left a store of easy lore 

For human use invented." 

Blackwood* s Magazine, 1864. 

"I said that I loved the wise proverb. 
Brief, simple, and deep; 
For it I'd exchange the great poem 
That sends us to sleep." 

Bryan WaUer Procter, 

Proverbs are fhe wisdom of fhe street. (English). 

Proverbs bear age and he who wotdd do well may view 
himself in them as in a looking-glass. (Italian). 

Proverbs lie on tiie lips of fools. (English). 

Saith Solomon thewise, a good wife's a good prixe. (Eng- 

Proverbs about Brorerbs 45 

Solomoii made a book of proverbs* but a book of proverbs 
never made Solomon. (BnsQsh). 

The Gomsion sayings of tike multitude ate too true to be 
laughed at (Welsh). 

The popular proverb says, ** One root of grass has one root 
of grass's dew to nourish it,'' and again it is said 
'* Forest birds have no stored grain, but heaven and 
earth are broad." (Chinese). 

The fox has a hundred proverbs to tell about ninety-nine 
fowls. (Osmanli). 

Sometimes this saying is rendered, "The fox has a 
hundred proverbs; ninety-nine are about poultiy/' 
the meaning being that men are most familiar 
with the proverbs that apply to matters with 
which they have had some experience. 

The legs of the lame hang loose; so is a parable in the 
mouth of fools. (Hebrew). 

"Take away the legs of a lame man; and so — ^a 

groverb which is in the mouth of fools." — 
tuart's TranslaUan ofPrao, xxvi : 7. 

The nuudms of men disdose ihtix hearts. (French). 

Maxims as distinguished from proverbs: 

The phrases most commonly used by men indicate 
their standards of morality and honotu:. Proverbs 
show the character of the nation or community, 
maxims the principles that govern the individual. 

"Many gjrubs never grow to butterflies; and a 
maxim is only a proverb in its caterpillar sta^e — 
a candidate for a wider sphere and larger flight 
than most are destineci to attain. — North 
British Review, February, 1858. 

r> **A man's conversation is the mirror of his thoughts, 
1 so the maxims of a people may be considered as a 
I medium which reflects with tolerable accuracy 
\ the existing state of their manners and ways of 
\ thinking. " — John Francis Davis, ^ 

The old saying long proved true shall never be believed. 


46 Curiorities in Proverbs 

There are f orbr proverbs about the bear, and the forty arts 
mere rubbish conceming him. (Osmanii). 

There is no proverb which is not true. (English). 

There is something wise in every proverb. (Arabian). 

Thomas Fuller said that a proverb "is much matter 
decocted into few words, and that the few words 
were always counted to be "words of wisdom" 
and "dear to the true intellectual aristocracy of a 
nation, " is abundantly proved by their use and 

** To the old cat," says tiie proverb, **give a tender mouse." 


We have many coarse proverbs but of good meaning. 

What flowers are to gardens, spices to food, gems to a 

garment, and stars to heaven; such are proverbs 
iterwoven in speech. (Hebrew). 

When a man makes a proverb he does not break it (Ger- 

When a poor man makes a proverb it does not spread* 

(O ji — ^West-African) . 

Generally throughout Africa poverty^ is considered 
not so much a misfortune as a cnme; hence the 
words of the destitute, no matter how wise, are 

When the occasion comes tiie proverb comes. (Oji — 

West- African). 

Wise men mak' proverbs and fools repeat them. (Scotch). 

With tiie smooth-tongued it is proverbial that there is no 
fidelity. (Osmanii). 


**AheDil'' as Dick Smith said when he swallowed tke 
dishdoflu (English). 

" Make a virtue of necessity. ' ' (English) . 

Cold water to hot water; hot water to cold water. (Telugu) 

There is a great advantage to be gained by uniting, 
as in marriage, two people of di&rent dispositions. 

Digging for a worm, up rose a snake. (Bengalese). 

"A jest driven too far brings home hate." 

Great doings at Gregory's; heated the oven twice for a 
custard. (English). 

A sarcastic reference to one who seeks notoriety by 

Having a mouth and eating rice by the nose. (Bengalese). 

Applied to one who seeks to perform some task in a 
difficult way or by impossible means, when a 
simple and easy way is at hand. 

He who has toothache must cut off his tongue ; he who has 
^e-ache, his hand. (Osmanli). 

This singular piece of advice is based on the belief 
that uie contact of the tongue with an aching 
tooth and the touching of a sore eye with the 
hand increases the pain. 

His mouth is shoes. (Osmanli). 

Or "This mouth is a pair of shoes" — ^that is, he 
talks too much and what he says is vulgar. 


48 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If it happens, it liappens; if it does not liappen^ what wiU 
happen? (Persian). 

An expression of indifference as to the results of any 
particular course of action. 

If they come, they come not; and if they come not, they 
come. (English). 

Sometimes the first part of this proverb only is 
quoted, and sometimes tiie last part. It is of 
Northumberland origin. 

"The cattle of people Hving hereabout, turned into 
the common pasture, did by custom use to return 
to their home at night, unless intercepted by the 
freebooters and borderers. If, therefore, those 
borderers came, their cattle came not; if th^ came 
not, their cattle surely returned.'* — John Kay. 

U you cut off from your tongue and roast and eat it, yoa 
have no meat. (Uji— West-African). 

This proverb is intended to refer to people who seek 
to settle disputes and secure their rights by 
carrying on a lawsuit against their own relations. 
'Tis better to yield one's xjghts than to secure 
them at too great a cost. The Uji people have 
another proverb that is closely allied to this. 
They say: "Though the beast is dainty-mouthed, 
it does not eat its coUar-belL " Though fond of 
dainties, even the dog will not si;i^ow the oma^ 
ment about its neck be it never so attractive. 

If your wife becomes a widow, who will cook for you? 


The Telugu people sometimes refer to a blockhead in 
the proverb, "When his brother-in-law said to 
him, 'O brother-in-law! your wife has become a 
widow,' he cries bitterly. 

If you see your neighboui's beard on fire, water your own. 
(Martinique Creole). 

Advice given to people who, seeing the results of 
wrongdoing in others, refuse to &m from their 
evil wajrs. 

See "Wit and Humour in Proverbs." "One 
man's beard is burning, another goes to light 
his cigarette by it." 

Singular Proverbs 49 

**I much doubt the Creole origin of any proverb 
relating to the beard. This one like many others 
in the collection of Creole proverbs has probably 
been borrowed from a European source; but it 
furnishes a fine example of patois." — Lafcadio 

In making a god, an ape ttuned up. (Bengalese). 

My intentions were good, but the results of my 
action were evil. 

If s past joking when tiie head's off. (Scotch). 

** Neat but not gaudy,'* as the devil said when he painted 
his tail sky-blue. (English). 

Ten in tiie pocket; ten in the heart; ten in ftte pillow. 


The man keeps his own counsel and it is not possible 
to discover what his opinions are. 

The bat hanging upside down laughs at tiie top^y-turvy 
world. (Japanese). 

The down meets his deatii on the tree-top. (Bengalese). 

If the clown was rash enough to climb the tree, it is 
his own fault if he falls. If a man deliberately 
engages in a hazardous imdertaking for gain and 
meets with misfortune, like the tree climber he 
^ows himself to be a clown and must not com- 
plain over the results. 

The cripple seized a thief, and the blind man ran to his 
assistance. (Hindustani). 

The monk^ settled the bread dispute. (Telugu). 

Two birds were quarrelling over a piece of bread 
when the monkey came and ate it. 

The proverb is applied to those who seek their own 
advantage under pretence of arbitrating the 
disputes of others. 

50 Curiosities in Proverbs 

"Like the cat settling the dispute between two 
birds." (Telugu). "Lawsuits make the parties 
lean, the lawyers fat." (German). "*The 
suit is ended,' said the lawyer; 'neither party has 
anything left.'" (German)* "Fcx)ls and obsti- 
nate men make lawyers rich. " (English). 

There are no fans in hell. (Arabic). 

The snake only knows where its feet are. (Telugu). 

This proverb is founded on the belief that the snake 
has invisible feet, and is used by the Telugus as 
an equivalent to the English sajong, "Every man 
knows his own business best," and the Scotch 
proverb, "Every man kens best where his own 
shoe pinches." Another Telugu expresses the 
same thought, "The hunchback alone knows how 
he can lie comfortably." 

They say I What say they? Let them say. (Scotch). 

"This was the motto of the Keiths, Earl Marischal, 
one of whom founded Marischal College, in the 
University of Aberdeen." — Andrew Cheviot, 

My name is Twyford; I know nothing of the matter. 


I do not wish to be drawn into the controversy or 
have anything tp do with the business. I was 
absent at the time. 

" Nay, stay," quoth Stinger, when his neck was in the 

halter. (English.) 

The matter has gone too far to be stopped. 

What is in your heart is in my pocket. (Kashmiri). 

Your secret is known to me, so that it behooveth 
you to be careful in dealing with me. I have you 
m my power. 

What mak's you sae romgunshach, and me sae curcud- 
doch? (Scotch). 

Rumgunshach, i.e., rude. Curcuddoch, i.e., kind. 
What makes you so rude to me when I am so kind 
to you? 

Singular Proverbs 51 

When fhe tutor is blind, and the pupil deaf; if the first ask 
an apple, the other will give him a pea. (Hindustani) . 

This proverb is generally applied to people who do 
not understand each other. 

Who has seen the peacock dance in the forest? (Hindus- 

Who has seen a man of ability display his talents 
among those who are totally unable to appreciate 
his worth? 


A feast uncovers a European's wooden leg. (Oji — ^West 


After a feast comes excessive drinking, by drinking 
men become intoxicated, intoxication leads to 
the exposure of mental defects and weaknesses. 

A fortune gone to hashed fish. Qapanese). 

A fortune dissipated by neglect or misuse. 

A ground sweat cures all diseases. (English). 
A ground sweat — Le., a burial. 

A hundred bleedings for a zuz, a hu^idred heads for a zoz, 
a hundred lips for nothing. (Hebrew). 

The ancient Hebrews held that every man should 
learn a trade, but as some trades were more 
honourable and profitable than others it was a 
father's duty to teach his son a trade that would 
command respect. Among those that were 
considered unprofitable was that of the barber, 
who, throughout the East, added to his other 
duties the practice of blocd-letting — Whence the 

Eroverb which may be rendered, "A hundred 
leedings for a zuz, a hundred hair-cuttings for a 
zuz, a hundred moustache trimmings for nothing." 

All goeth down Gutter Lane. (English). 

"Gutter-Lane (right spelling whereof is Guthum- 
lane, from him the once owner thereof) is a small 
lane inhabited anciently by goldsmiths, leading 
out of Cheapside, east to Foster Lane. The 
proverb is appHed to those who spend all in 
drunkenness and gluttony, mere oelly gods; 
guttur being Latin for the throat." — Jokn Ray, 


Obscure Proverbs 53 

A loyal heart may be landed under Traitor's bridge, 


There was an entrance to the Tower under Traitor's 

A quarrel arises from saying '* You," " L" (Osmanli). 

When one man charges another, sa3mig "You did 
it," and the other answers "I did not do it," a 
quarrel arises between them. 

A shoe of silver makes iron soft. (Marathi). 

A bribe will soften the heart of the obdurate. 

Between truth and falsehood, the distance is four fingers. 


Truth is seen with the eye; falsehood is heard with 
the ear. The space between the eye and the ear 
may be covered by four fingers. Sometimes the 

groverb is render^, "Between truth and false- 
ood the distance is four inches," four inches 
being the supposed distance between the eyes and 
ears on both sides of the face. 

Belyve is twa hours and a half. (Scotch). 

Belyve — Le,, immediately. 

The proverb is applied to people who promise to 
pertorm some task without delay out whose 
habits of procrastination arc such as to render it 
certain that their promise will not be kept. 

Bringing the water and breaking the pitcher are the same 
thing. (Persian). 

A proverb applicable to employers who do not 
appreciate faithful service on the part of their 
employees but who are as inconsiderate to those 
who are loyal to their interests as to those who 
are careless and neglectful. There is an Hindu- 
stani proverb that expresses the same thought: 
"Those that sing the praises of Hum and that 
merely utter inarticulate sounds are treated 

Death was not sufficient for the dead ; the grave, moreover, 
must press upon him. (Arabic). 

Mohammedans believe "that the tomb presses 

54 Curiosities in Proverbs 

upon the body therein deposited either lightly or 
heavily according to the sins or merits of the 
deceased." — J. L. Buckhardt, 

The meaning of the proverb is that the man's 
character was so baa that he was punished not 
only by death but by the pressiu^e oi the grave. 

Die at Benares or die on hereditary land. (Marathi). 

Die at Benares and so make sure of your salvation, 
or die on hereditary land and so make sure of a 
provision for your children. 

Do not open the moufh of the sack. (Osmanli). 

Do not divulge the secret. Sometimes the proverb 
is rendered, "Do not open the little box, you will 
make (something) bad speak" — ^it will lead to 
evil results. 

Do not speak of a cup; there is a bald person in the house. 


It would be indiscreet to cast reflection on the 
baldness of any person by an implied or indirect 
comparison. The outer surface of a cup is smooth 
Hke a bald head. 

Even a river will forgive three offences. (Telugu). 

A drowning man is supposed to sink three times 
before finally disappearing from sight. 

Every hog has his St. Martin's day. (Spanish). 

The season for killing hogs in Spain is about the 
middle of November. St. Martin's day falls on 
November nth. 

Every house has an earthen fireplace. (Telugu). 
"Every man hath his faults. " (English). 

Every pumpkin is known by its stem. (Hebrew). 

"The childhood shows the man, 
As morning shows the day. Be famous then 
By wisdom; as thy empire must extend, 
So let extend thy minci o'er all the world. " 

John MUUm* 

Obscure Proverbs 55 

S^ecy way. or at evecy end, there are three leagues of 
heart-breakiiig. (Spanish). 

When a man's affairs are in bad condition and he is 
unable to extricate himself from difficulty, every 
wav leads to further complications; at every 
end he finds an obstacle and he is near disaster. 

SFecything has an end, and a pudding has two. (English). 

The old English long pudding was called a "leg 
pudding" because of its supposed resemblance 
to a human leg. 

Hadst got up early, thou needest not have stayed up late. 

K you had been industrious in your youth it would 
not have been necessary to work in old age. 

Has the black cat passed from between us? (Osmanli). 
Have we had a quarrel? 

Has the cat leaped over it that it is not here? (Hindus- 

The Hindu people think that food over which a cat 
has jumped is unfit to eat. 

The question is asked, by way of reproof, to serv- 
ants who fail to bring to their masters that 
which they were told to bring. 

Have you poked my eye with my own finger? (Telugu). 
Have you turned my arguments against me? 

He appears as if he ate roasted spits. (Spanish). 

See "Curious Proverbial Similes and Comparisons." 
" He looks as if he were hatching eggs." 

Applied to people who are stiff and formal in their 
manner, corresponding to the EngUsh simile, 
"As stiff as a ranmxi. 

He daps his dish at a wrong man's door. (English) . 

See "Curious Proverbial Similes and Comparisons." 
"His tongue moves like a beggar's clap dish." 

The clap dish was a wooden vessel used by beggars 
in olden times for collecting coins. It was csdled 

56 Curiosities in Proverbs 

a "dap dish" because it had a cover which the 
be^ars clapped on a number of times with much 
noise to attract attention and show that the dish 
was empty. As people became accustomed to the 
clatter of the clapping and ceased to respond, the 
beggars added thereto the ringing of a bcU. 

He cooks booze in fhe nape of his neck. (Osmanli). 
He is drunk. 

He has got a turn through fhe reek* (Gaelic). 

Reek — i.e., smoke. 

This saying refers to the old superstitious practice 
of placing a newly christened child into a basket 
and passing him over a fire to protect him against 
the power of evil spirits. 

He made him ride upon two horses. (Hebrew). 
"He made assurance doubly sure." 

He is gilding the elephant's tusk. (Bengalese). 

He is a good man and shows his goodness by con- 
tinuing to walk in the paths of virtue. 

He is driving his hogs over Swarston bridge. (English). 

Swarston bridge being long and narrow, hogs when 
driven over were so crowded together that they 
made a loud grunting noise to show their dis- 
comfort; hence arose this sapng, which was 
appUed to men snoring in their sleep. 

He saw a large stone, kissed it, and left it. (Persian). 

When he saw the nature of the task that was 
assigned to him, he realized his inability to 
perform it, and prudently declined to begin work. 

Hell lick the white frae your een. (Scotch). 

"This phrase is alvrays applied when people, with 
pretence of friendship, do you an ill turn, as one 
licking a mote out of your eye makes it blood- 
shot. — AUan Ramsay, 

Obscure Proverbs 57 

He will follow him like St Anthony's pig. (English). 

St. Anthony of Padua was regarded as the protector 
and patron saint of the lower animals, particu- 
larly pigs. 

"St. Anthony was originally a swine-herd, and in 
all pictures and sculptures is represented as 
followed by a pig, frequently having a bell about 
his neck. Probably this pig might have been one 
of his former eleves, before he took on himself the 
trade of a saint. The attachment of this pig or 
hog, at length, grew proverbial. *' — Francis Grose, 

"St. Anthony is notoriously known for the patron 
of hogs, having a pig for his page in all pictures, 
though for what reason unknown; except because 
being a hermit and having a cell or hole digged 
in the earth, and having his general repast on 
roots, he and ho^s did in some sort enter com- 
mons, both in their diet and lodgings. " — Thomas 
Fuller. K 

"The officers of this city (London) did divers times 
take from the market people pigs starved or other- 
wise tm wholesome for man's sustenance; these 
they did sUt in the ear. One of the proctors of 
St. Anthony's Hospital tied a bell about the 
neck and let it feed upon the dunghills; no one 
would hurt or take it up; but if anyone gave it 
bread or other feeding, such it would know, 
watch for and daily follow, whining till it had 
somewhat given it; whereupon was raised a 
proverb, such a one will follow such a one, and 
whine as if it were an Anthony pig. " — John Stow, 

He who is guilty of sin easily begets daughters. (Marathi) . 

As daughters are regarded by the people as less 
desirable than sons fheir birth is held to be a 
punishment inflicted on the parents for sins 
that they committed in a former existence. 

He whose stomach is full increaseth deeds of evil. 

Wealth leads to indolence and pleasure seeking; indo< 
lence breeds discontent and wrong-doing. Work 
produces virtue, and virtue honour. " (German), 

SeeDeut. viii : io-i4;xzxii :i5;Hos.xiii :6. ' 

58 Curiosities in Proverbs 

He wipes his trouble on his cheek. (Old Calabar — ^Wcst 

He exercises great patience and forbearance. 

He who sells a house gets the price of the nails. Qapanese) . 

A saying commonly used to indicate that a man 
receives but a small portion of the value of his 
house when he sells it. 

His eyes draw straws. (English). 

He is sleepy. The sajdng is thought to have come 
from the narrow strawlike rays of light that one 
appears to see when his eyes are nearly closed. 

His understanding is lost in his strength. (Arabian). 
He is tall and stupid. 

I do not want a shoe larger than my foot. (Hebrew). 
I do not want to marry above my station. 

I have had a dumb man's dream. (Bengalese) . 

I have had a dream that I cannot recall, or one 
that I ought not to relate. 

In the evening a red man is black. (Oji — ^West African). 

Among Europeans people are designated as blondes 
or brunettes, so among the African Negroes they 
are designated as black (coal black) and red 
(ruddy brown). 

"By candle light a goat looks like a lady." 

It is a good thing to eat your brown bread first. (English). 

Hardships are more easily borne in youth than in 
old age. 

It is more difficult to cross the door sill than to walk about 
tiie house. (Marathi). 

The hardest part of an enterprise is getting started. 

It is not common for hens to have pillows. (Gaelic). 

It is not meant that common people should affect a 
position and manner of living to which they are 
not accustomed. 

Obscure Proverbs 59 

Little boy who won't listen to his mother dies under the 
Monday sun. (French Guiana— Creole). 

"All Creole mothers are careful to keep their 
children from reckless play in the sun, which is 
peculiarly treacherous in those latitudes where the 
dialect is spoken. Hence the proverb applicable 
to any circumstance in which good advice is 
reluctantly received. " — Lafcadio Heam* 

May your heels keep the spur o' your head. (Scotch). 
May you be able to carry out your purpose. 

Misery for two is Misery & Co. (Louisiana Creole). 

"Before you marry have where to tarry, " (Italian). 
"Be sure before you marry of a house wherein to 
tarry." (Spanish). "Before you marry have a 
house to Hvein, fields to till, and vines to cut." 

My aflfairs are like Nandan's camp. (Tamil). 

Nandan was "the name of a shoemaker who is 
reputed to have reigned as a king for three hours, 
and to have issued leather coin. — P. Percival, 

No one will meddle with a piece of furniture that has a 

mouth. (Spanish). 

No one cares for that which is of no benefit and 
requires constant care and expense. 

Not to know B from a battledore. (EngHsh). 

This sa3dng is supposed to have been first used 
when the hom-Dook was employed for the in- 
^ struction of children. The horn-book was made 
^ of thin oak wood about nine inches long and six 
inches broad. On it were printed the letters of the 
alphabet and the nine digits, and sometimes the 
Lord's Prayer. It had a handle and was covered 
in front by a sheet of thin horn. Not to know B 
when seen on the horn-book was not to know B 
from a battledore and to be quite ilHterate. 

Once to a friend, twice to a friend, but thrice — ^and it is his 
fatal day. (Modem Greek). 

A man can pardon a friend's offence once and even 
twice, but not a third time. 

6o Curiosities in Proverbs 

One's own pedal proves a crocodile. (Bengalese). 

The crocodile lying motionless on the shore re- 
sembles a log of wood from which a housdiold 
pedal is formed. 

One's own kith and kin are most hostile. 

Out of God's blessing into the warm sun. (English). 

"To jump out of the frjdng-pan into the fire." 

" Good King, that must approve the common saw, 
Thou out of heaven's benediction comest 
To the warm Sun." — Shakespeare: King Lear, 

People who have their ears above their heads. (Hay- 

People who are obstinate and insubordinate. 

Rub your brother's aim. (Hindustani). 

Spoken ironically to one who attempts to perform 
a task that is oeyond his strength, or who, having 
failed in an undertaking, boasts of his skill or 

t is common in India to show admiration for a 
successful wrestler by rubbing or squeezing his 

Send dog, and dog sends tail. (Trinidad Creole). 
Applied to those who act by proxy. 

Shake the salt off and throw the meat to the dog. (Hebrew). 

As salt preserves meat, so the soul preserves the 
body. When death comes and the soul takes its 
flight nothing remains but a worthless body. 

She is fond of gape seed. (English). 

She is fond of staring at everyone she meets and at 
everything she sees. 

Something must be done to become white. (Spanish). 

Something must be done to restore his good name. 

There seems to be an allusion in this saying to the 
powdering of the face in order to give it a fairer 

Obscure Proverbs 6i 

Tak' up the steik in your stocking. (Scotch). 

Reform your life. "Turn over a new leaf." 

That will happen in the week of four Thursdays. (Louisi- 
ana Creole). 

You will keep your promise when a week has four 
Thursdays and not before. 

The beard will pay for the shaving. (English). 

The work will pay for itself. The proverb is used 
in referring to men who receive a part or all of the 
proceeds of their labour as a compensation for 
their services. 

The black ox hath not trod on his foot. (English). 

The black ox represents any kind of misfortune or 

"Venus waxeth old: and then she was a pretie 
wench, when Juno was a young wife; now crow's 
foote is on her eye, and the black oxe hath trod 
on her foot. " — John Lyly. 

"Abide f quoth I], it was yet but honey moon; 
The black ox had not trod on his nor her foot, 
But ere this branch of bliss could reach any root 
The flowers so faded that, in fifteen weeks 
A man might espy the change in the cheeks." 

John Heywood, 

"Why then do folke this proverbe put. 
The black oxe meere trod on thy foot, 
If that way (marrying) were to thrive?" 

Thomas Tusser, 

The boat on the cart, and the cart on the boat. (Benga- 

As the boat sometimes carries the cart across the 
stream and the cart sometimes transports the 
boat to the river bank, so men are subject to 
reverses in fortune; sometimes they are rich and 
support others and sometimes they are poor and 
become dependent on the help of others. 

The bully takes twenty twentieths. (Urdu). 

" I carry off the chief share because I am called the 

62 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The crow has a maid servant in autumn. (Gaelic). 
The man keeps more servants than he requires. 

The goat met the water and wetted his whiskers. (Ara- 

He became over indulgent because of opportunity. 

The harelip is taken for a dimple. Qapanese). 
Used to indicate the blindness of love. 

The hand is shallow but the throat is deep. (New Zea* 

He is too lazy to work, but he is a great eater. 

The horse and the head are together. (Osmanli) . 

The man on horseback bends forward so that his 
head is near that of the horse. 

The saying is applied to people who seem to have 
few difficulties or troubles. 

The needle, borax, and a good man — ^these three repair 
breaches. (Bengalese). 

The needle is used for mending clothes, borax for 
soldering metal, and a good man for healing 
difficulties in society. 

The Passover is celebrated within the house and the 
chanting is carried outside. (Hebrew). 

When the members of a household are happy their 
happiness spreads to those outside. 

There is no warmth, the garment is too smalL 

Meaning that the war party is not large. 

The remedy of one is two. (Hindustani). 

If force is required to restrain a furious man, it 
should be the force of two. 

There^s my thoom, Fll ne'er beguile thee. (Scotch). 

"It was an old custom in Scotland, when lovers 
plighted their troth, to lick the thumbs of each 
other's right hands, which they pressed together 
and vowed fideUty." — Andrew Cheviot, 

Obscure Proverbs 63 

There went but a pair of shears between this and that. 


They are so much alike that they seem to be cut 
from the same piece of cloth. 

The sail-4U!m of the windmill does not turn unless it is 
greased. (Osmanh). 

Services cannot be secured from others unless 
money is given. 

The teeth are not the heart. (Martinique Creole), 

The exposure of the teeth in -laughter does not 
always indicate that the heart is merry. 

The third tongue slays three: the speaker, the spoken to* 
and the spoken of. (Hebrew). 

By the third tongue is meant the tongue of slander. 

"A phrase used often in the Targum, the Aramaic 
version of the Bible, and also in Svriac. Slander 
is a vice most fiercely denounced in Rabbinical 
literature. Some of the things said about the 
slanderer are: 'He magnifies his iniquity as far as 
Heaven/ 'He is worthy of stoning,* 'The Holy 
One says, I and he cannot dwell together in the 
earth,' 'The retailer of slander and also the 
receiver of it deserve to be cast to the dogs."* — 
A, Cohen, 

The writing written on the forehead never fails. (Telugu). 

This saying originated in the Hindoo belief that 
eveiy man's fate is recorded in the sutures of the 

They met the blacksmith on the road and said, " Make a 
knife for us.*' (Assamese). 

They asked a blacksmith to ply his trade away from 
his forge. 

The saying is used in referring to untimely requests. 

They shall pull usi They shall ptdl usi Then we shall 
sleep ^thout fire. (Oji — ^West Africa). 

"West Africans, who have scanty clothing, sleep 
by the side of a fire during the colder nights of 
the year. When troubled by the smoke, they 

64 Curiosities in Proverbs 

order a slave, or some one handy, to remove the 
cause of offence. If, however, this is done too 
often, the fire will disappear and the cold will 
become more troublesome than the smoke was. 
The proverb warns men to choose the lesser of 
two evils, not to incur the risk of a greater for the 
pun>ose of ridding oneself of the smaller trouble." 
— Richard F, Burion, 

Thou hast added water, add flour also. (Hebrew). 

You have asked many questions, now say something 
, that is worth listening to. 

Today drunk with fan, tomorrow the paddle. (Mauritius 

The proverb has special reference to slave days 
when neglect of duty was followed by punish- 

To reckon another's buttons. (Spanish). 

The saying contains an allusion to a skilful fencer 
who is able to strike any part of his antagonist's 
body, and is applied to people who are shrewd 
in dealing with others. 

To say " I " is the devil's affair. (Osmanli). 
An egotist is the product of the devil. 

Two to one I shall change myself to a crane. (Spanish). 

If my antagonist is superior to me in strength, there 
are two chances to one that I will retreat. 

What comes over the devil's back goes under his belly. 


What one gains by dishonest practices will not 
profit the possessor and may bring much trouble. 

"*By my faith,' said Cleveland, 'thou takest so 
kindly to the trade, that all the world may see 
that no honest man was spoiled when you were 
made a pirate. But you shall not prevail on me 
to go farther in the devil's road with you; for 
you know yourself that what is got over his back 
is spent — vou wot how.'" — Sir Walter Scott: 
The Pirate. 

Obscure Proverbs 65 

What you want to say, say it tomorrow. (Japanese). 
"Think before you apeak." (English). 

When a tree is blown down, it shows that the branches are 
larger than the roots. (Chinese). 

Misfortune shows whether a man is strong in pro- 
fession only, or in character. 

"We live in our roots not in our branches. What is 
your soul? Not, what is your talk? What is 
your quality? Not, what is your pretension or 
profession? How many men there are who are 
all branch! What will become of them? Ask the 
wind. " — Joseph Parker. 

When death comes, the dog presses up to the wall of the 
mosque. (Osmanli). 

When death draws near, men turn toward religion 
for comfort and strength. 

When he was bom, Solomon passed by his door and would 
not go in. (Spanish). 

He might have been a wise man, but he is nothing 
but a fool. Applied to people who seem to be 
lacking in common sense. 

With an old kettle one can buy a new one. (Spanish). 

An old man with money can marry a young girl if 
he wishes to do so. 

Within two and a half fingers' breadth of the sky. 


His conceit is so great that he acts as though his 
head almost reached to the sky. 

You may blow till your eyes start out, but if once you offer 
to stir your fingers you will be at the end of your 
lesson. (Gascon). 
This saying alludes to one blowing on a reed-pipe. 

'We can say, Cicero says thus; these were the 
manners of Plato; these are the very words of 
Aristotle. But what do we say ourselves that is 
our own? What do we do? What do we judge? 
A parrot could say as much as that. " — Michael 
de Montaigne, 


66 Curiosities in Proverbs 

You will give I know, but you will eat your shoes. (Kash- 

To " eat your shoe " is to be beaten with a shoe. 

You will pay your debt, but not until you are 
compelled to do so by a thrashing. 


A black b^;iimiiig mak's aye a black ehd. (Scotch). 

Said to have been first spoken by one, John Scott, 
as a comment on the loss of a nock of sheep that 
perished in Selkirkshire, Scotland, during the 
winter of 1620. Only one black ewe escaped, but 
it was afterwards driven into a lake by some boys 
and so was drowned. 

A black goat has no heart. (Behar). 

Applied to weak and timid men who have no 

Among the natives of Behar, the bile of a black goat 
is considered valuable because of its healing 

The following tale indicates the origin of the pro- 

Once a tiger, who had grown sick and feeble from 
age, and was unable to hunt owing to failing 
strength, was strongly recommended by his 
ph}rsician to try the liver of a black goat. There- 
upon the monarch of the forest ordered his vazir, 
the jackal, to get him a black goat. The wily 
*Ja<i* by many false promises managed to 
inveigle a black goat within reach of his infirm 
master, who took no time in killing it. The 
ctmning jackal, who was himself eager to eat the 
Hver, having heard of its marvellous powers, 
suggested to his master a preparatory bath 
beiore taking the remedy. The tiger approving 
of the suggestion went to have a bath. In the 
meantime Jack ' devoured the liver of the black 
goat. When the tiger came back he was surprised 
to find that the goat had no liver. Tummg to 
the jackal the tiger asked what was the meaning 



68 Ctiriosities in Proverbs 

of this, 'Sire,' exclaimed the *Jack,' *I thought 

Sour majesty was aware that black goats had no 
ver; otherwise how could your servant have 
deceived a black goat into your presence?"*— 
John Christian in Behar Proverbs, 

A camel for a farthing and still too dear. (Persian) . 

Used to indicate poverty so extreme that a farthing 
seemed to be a large sum. 

According to an old Persian story a merchant, 
having met with business reverses, was reduced 
to extreme poverty. When in this condition he 
happened to be in a place where a man had a 
camel to sell. The merchant's son went to the 
camel dealer and inquired the price of the animal. 
On being told that it could be purchased for a 
farthing he informed his father, who declared 
that the price was too high. In time business 
success returned to the merchant and he became 
rich. Travelling again with his son, he came to a 
village where an egg was on sale for a rupee. The 
young man, heanng what was charged for it, 
told his father, who at once expressed the opinion 
that it was very cheap at the price, his changed 
standards being due not to his knowledge of 
value but to his altered circumstances. 

A goat has only three legs. (Hindustani). 

Sometimes it is quoted, "The hare has only three 
legs," or "The fowl has only one leg.*"* The 
phrase is used in referring to obstinate people who, 
though they are convicted of error, will not 
acknowledge that they are wrong. 

It is said to have been first used by a man who, 
having stolen a leg of a goat, hare, or fowl, sought 
to prove his innocence by stubbornly insisting 
that the animal did not possess by nature more 
legs than could be seen. 

Agreement with two people, lamentation with three. 


"Two is company, but three is none.'* (English). 

The proverb came from the following story: A 
certain man ordered a servant to lead his horse to 
pasture in a near village where there was some 

Fotinded on History, Legends, etc. 69 

good grass and charged him not to mount the 
animal by the way. After his departure he sus- 
pected that his servant might disregard his in- 
junction and he dispatched another servant to 
see that his directions were carried out. On over- 
taking the man the messenger found him leading 
the horse as he was told and the two walked on 
. together. In the course of time they became 
weary and sat by the roadside to rest. When 
they arose they agreed that it would be easier to 
ride than walk and so mounting the animal they 
pursued their way. The master, still being 
anxious, sent a third servant who, on overtaking 
the couple on horseback, remonstrated with them 
on account of their unfaithfulness and threatened 
to report them. "Do not do it," they pleaded, 
"but come join us in our ride, * ' Yielding to their 
wishes he mounted the horse and the three men 
rode on until they came to the pasture land. The 
next morning the horse died and the unfaithful 
servants were in great distress lest their actions 
should come to the knowledge of the master. 

A man was once hanged for leaving his drink. (Scotch). 

"He will be hanged for leaving his liquor, like the 
saddler of Bawtry, '* is a parallel proverb upon 
which comment is made elsewhere. 

The proverb is usually applied to men who leave 
their drink before they are through, and originated 
in the action of Balthazar G6rard just before he 
murdered the Prince of Orange. 

As gude may hand the stirrup as he that loups on. (Scotch). 

The phrase is said to have originated with Elliot of 
Stobbs who, knowing that his stable-boy was the 
illegitimate son of Elliot of Larriston, was in the 
habit of remarking, " Better he that holds the stir- 
rup than he that rides, "when he mounted his horse. 
The young man afterwards succeeded in amassing 
a fortune and purchased the ancestral estate. 

As musical as the cow fhat ate the piper. (Irish) , 

"Binny Bryan was a famous piper. On his round 
one day he found a dead Hessian, and tried to 
pull off his boots, but pulled off his legs along 

70 Curiosities in Proverbs 

with them. Boots and legs he carried to a byre, 
where he slept that night. In the morning he 
managed to get the legs out of the boots; and 
when the people who owned the byre came to 
milk their cow, they found no piper but only a 
pair of legs, and naturally supposed the cow had 
eaten the piper and his pipes. — J. D, White in 
the Kilkenny Moderator, 

A raven that brings fire to its nest. (Hebrew). 

This saying takes its origin from the fable of the 
raven that sought to warm its young by bringing 
fire to the nest and so burned them all. It is 
applied to those who injure others in their efforts 
to do them good. 

As the day raises itself, so the sick man raises himself. 


There is an old legend that Abraham wore sus- 
pended about his neck a precious stone that had 
nealing qualities. Whoever looked upon it was 
restored of whatever malady he hao. On the 
death of the patriarch God removed the healing 
virtue from the stone and gave it to the sun's 
rays so that thereafter those who suffered from 
any illness found the day more restful and freer 
from pain than the night. 

Be a dog rather than a younger brother. (Persian). 

This proverb comes from a story of a man who had 
three sons. The youngest was always considered 
to be subservient to the others. One cold winter 
night when there was much snow some friends of 
the man came by his invitation to spend the 
evening with him. While he and his two elder 
sons conversed with the visitors, the youngest 
son was compelled to minister to their needs and 
furnish all necessary entertainment. Noticing 
the boy's plight, one of the guests a&ked him to sit 
down with him and rest, whereupon he sighed 
and uttered the above adage. 

Be deliberate! Be deliberate! 'Tis worth four hundred 
zuz. (Hebrew). 

"The proverb originated under the following cir- 
cumstances: R. Ida, the son of Ahaba, once ptilled 

Founded on History, Legends, etc. 71 

a kind of head covering only worn by non- Jewish 
women from the head of a woman under the 
supposition that she was a Jewess. He was 
mistaken and was fined four hundred zuz. On 
asking the woman her name, she replied that it 
was Methun, which also means 'Be deliberate'; 
'Be not hasty.' There is a further play on the 
word, for it closely resembles another with the 
meaning *Two hundred.' Note that the word is 
repeated, bringing -the total to 'Four hundred,' 
the amount paid as a fine. Ibu Gabirol likewise 
savs: 'Reflection insures safety, but rashness is 
followed by regrets.'" — A, Cohen in Ancient 
Jewish Proverbs, 

Cany an old man with yon in a sack. (Marathi) . 

"Consult with the old and fence with the young." 
(German). "Old men for counsel, youn^ men 
for war," (English). "The aged in counal, the 
young in action," (Danish). "The old effect 
more by counsel than the young by action." 

There are a number of stories about intelligent 
young men who were about to set out on a jour- 
ney alone but who were finally induced to take 
an old man with them, who in turn compensated 
them for their consideration by giving them wise 
counsel by the way. One of the stories tells of 
the old man consenting to be tied and carried in a 
sack so as not to wound the pride of the young 

Does a weaver know how to cut barley? (Behar). 

See under this section: "The weaver lost his way 
in a linseed field, " and under Retorting Proverbs: 
"Like the wabster stealing through the world." 

"This proverb refers to a story that a weaver, 
unabk to pay his debt, was set to cut barley by 
his creditors, who thought to repay himsdf in 
this way. But instead of reaping, the stupid 
fellow kept trving to untwist the tangled barley 
stems. "— -Cj. a, Grierson, 

"A weaver jointlv with another man sowed sugar- 
cane. When tne crop was ripe, on being asked 
whether he would have the top or the stem, said. 

72 Curiosities in Proverbs 

*0f course the top/ When reproached by his 
wife for his stupidity, he said he would never 
again make such a mistake. The next crop they 
sowed was Indian com. When the time for 

gathering came round he told his friends that 
e was not to be made a fool of this time and 
wotdd have the lower part. His friend gave him 
what he wanted." — John Christian, 

» » 

Fight like KUkenny cats, that ate one another except their 
tails. (Irish). 

"Like the Kilkenny cats, who fought and left 
nothing but their tails. " (English). 

"It is said that when the Hessians were quartered 
in Kilkenny, they used to amuse themselves by 
tying two cats' tails together, and throwing 
tnem over a line to fight. Their officer heard of 
this and ordered that there should be no more 
cat-fights. Still on a certain day there were two 
cats on the line when the officer was heard coming, 
and one of the troopers cut them down, leaving 
only the tails on the line. The officer asked, 
'Where are the cats ?' when one of the troopers 
explained that they fought so furiously that they 
had eaten one another up except their tails." — 

' J, D, White in the Kilkenny Moderator, 

Brewer sajrs regarding the tale: "Whatever the 
true story, it is certain that the municipalities of 
Kilkenny and Irishtown contended so stoutly 
about their respective boundaries and rights to 
the end of the seventeenth century, that they 
mutually impoverished each other, leaving little 
else than 'two tails' behind." 

"There were two cats at Kilkenny; 
Each thought there was one too many; 
So they quarrelled and fit, ' 
They scratched and they bit, 
Till, excepting their nails 
And the tips of their tails. 
Instead of two cats, there wasn't any. " 

Old Rhyme, 

Fool, keep the com farther off. (Modem Greek). 

Sometimes rendered, "Clown, you should have 
|;iven the corn sooner^" 

Founded on History, Legends, etc. 73 

An avaricious muleteer sought to save monejr by 
starving his mide. This so weakened the animal 
that one day, under a heavy load, it fell to the 
ground. The muleteer removed the load from the 
animal's back and tried to make it rise. Failing, 
he took some com in his hand and held it a short 
distance from its mouth, but it was in vain; the 
mule was too weak to ^et on its feet. While the 
muleteer was engaged in thus coaxing his beast 
a neighbour passed, and knowing the man's 
avariaous nature taunted him in the words of the 

For the bloating we have lost the neighing. (Modem 

"Penny wise and pound foolish"; "Save at the 
spigot and let out at the bunghole"; "Save at 
the tap and waste at the btmghole." (English). 

A dishonest peasant, desiring a sheep that belonged 
to a shepherd, determined to steal it, so mounted 
his horse and drove to the pen where it was kept. 
Tying his horse to a bush he entered, but the 
shepherd's dog, hearing him, barked and he fled, 
leaving his horse behind him. On returning to 
his home his wife asked him why he walked and 
what had become of his horse. Instead of telling 
her the story of his misfortune he answered by 
imitating the baaing of the sheep and neighing of 
the horse; then he explained tne circumstances 
of his trip. The incident becoming known, the 
proverb came into use. 

God gives bread but we must creep along ourselves also. 

(Modem Greek). 

"God helps them that help themselves," (English 
and Scotch); "Help thyself and God will help 
thee," (Scotch); "Who guards himself God will 
guanl him"; "God helps him who amends him- 
self," (Spanish); "God is a good worker, but he 
loves to be helped," (Bascjue); "God sends the 
thread to cloth which is begun," (French); 
"God gives food but does not cook it and put it 
in the mouth," (Telugu); "God gives birds their 
food but they must fly for it," (Dutch); "God 
|;ives every bird its food but does not throw it 
Wjtp the nest; " (Danish), 

74 Curiosities in Proverbs 

There are many proverbs of similar import. 

A certain man, on hearing that God would care for 
those who relinquished all their possessions, left 
his home and retired to the desert where he gave 
himself to fasting and prayer. On the third day 
of his retirement he observed many horses laden 
with baskets of bread passing over a distant 
highway. Seeing a loaf fall from one of the 
baskets, he waited and then cautiously dragged 
himself over the ground to the spot. Seizing 
the bread he began to eat. As he did so he re- 
peated to himself: "Yes, it is true, God gives 
bread, but we must creep along ourselves to get 

God has His hosts, amongst fhem honey. (Arabic). 

It is a tradition among the Arabs that this proverb 
was first used by Moawiah, the Emperor, who 
when he received the news that Aschtar, his 
enemy, had died from eating honey made from 
poisonous herbs exclaimed in pious satisfaction, 
God has His hosts, amongst them honey." 

Gomft Genesa and a brass gate. (Marathi) . 

In a time of political upheaval a man by the name 
of Goma Genesa went, without authority from 
the government, to the "Brass Gate" of the 
town where he lived and exacted toll of those who 
passed through. To make the procedure seem 
valid he gave a receipt on which were stamped the 
words of the proverb. This practice he kept 
up for years and accumulated much money. 
When the fraud was discovered the government, 
instead of punishing him for it, rewarded him for 
his shrewdness. 

Has she a right to say, '* There is **' or ** There is not''? 


A proverb used to indicate that, amongst the 
Telugu people, the authoritjr of a daughter-in- 
law is not recognized. Its origin is found in the 
following story: 

A woman told a beggar to go to her house for 
assistance. The man proceeded at once and was 
met by the woman'sdaughter-in-law who refused 

Founded on History, Legends, etc. 75 

to give him anything. On turning awav he met 
the woman who inqtiired whether alms had been 
given to him. When she heard that he had been 
refused she was angry and chastened her daugh- 
ter-in-law. "Now you may go," she said to the 
beggar. "Has she any authority to say there are 
alms for you or there are not? " 

He has a white side and a black side, like the boat of Short 
John's son. (Gaelic). 

"Mac Iain Ghearr (or Ghiorr)'s proper name was 
Archibald MacDonell. He was a noted reaver 
and followed a known practice of pirates in having 
his boat and sails of different colours on each 
side." — Alexander Nicolsan, 

He is fond of championship who takes locusts under his 
protection. (Arabic). 

This proverb "commemorates Modlcg Ben Sowaid, 
a plucky chieftain, who carried the law of hos- 
pitality so far that when a flight of locusts 
alighted on his territory, and some neighbouring 
tribe was tampering with them, this Quixote of 
the desert drove off the invaders and saved the 
locusts." — North American Review for February, 

He set fire to his own beard. (Persian). 

For other proverbs about the beard see Singular 
Proverbs and Wit and Humour in Proverbs. 

A man hearing that a large amount of hair on the 
face was a sign of mental deficiency consulted the 
books of the wise men and found that it was so. 
He therefore determined to rid himself of a 

S)rtion of his own beard which was very long, 
rasping it at the place where he wished it 
removed, he set fire to the end. The beard being 
well anointed blazed up, not only burning off afl 
the hair but inflicting serious injury on his hand 
and face. His neighbours learning of his effort 
and its consequences formed the ijroverb which 
became common among the Persians and was 
used by them when they desired to charge people 
with being the cause of their own injury. 

76 Curiosities in Ptoverbs 

He that invented The Maiden, first hanselled it (Sootch). 

"Regent Morton, the inventor of a new instrument 
of death called *The Maiden/ was himself the 
first upon whom the proof of it was made. Men 
felt, to use the language of the Latin poet, that 
*no law was juster tlmn that the artificers of 
death should perish by their own art,' and em- 
bodied their sense of this in the proverb." — 
Archbishop Trench. 

He who loses an opportunity of (eating) the meat, let him 
feed on the broth. (Arabic). 

"An Arabian story relates that the bird kombar 
once invited King Solomon to dine, and requested 
that all his courtiers might accompany him. The 
King inquired whether there was a sufficient 
supply of food for so large a company and re- 
ceived in answer that everything necessary had 
been provided. The fi[uests arrived and seated 
themselves near the banks of a river. When 
dinner time approached the kombar came flying 
with a locust m his bill. Having eaten some of it 
himself, he threw the rest into the water and 
addressed this proverb to his royal guest, ad- 
vising him to satiate himself with the locust broth. 
The wise monarch smiled, he and his attendants 
drank some of the water, thanked their host and 
departed. " — /. L. Buckhardt in Arabic Proverbs, 

He will be hanged for leaving his liquor, like the saddler of 
Bawtiy. (English). 

See proverb: "A man was once hanged for leaving 
his drink." 

The phrase is said to have had its origin in the fact 
that the saddler of Bawtrv, while under sentence 
and on his way to the gallows, refused to stop at 
an ale-house where he was invited to drink, but 
hastened along the road to the "fatal tree" where 
he was hung. Soon thereafter a reprieve arrived. 
Had he stopped to drink, the delay would have 
saved his life. 

I beg your pardon, Madam Cow. (Modem Greek). 
Used when one person is mistaken for another. 
Alexander Negris gives the following incident as 

Founded on History, Legends, etc. 77 

indicating the origin of the saving: "A French 
gentleman of an absent turn of mind was passing 
along a public street, when a cow came up behind 
him, whose shadow caught his eve. Mistaking 
it for that of a lady, he conceived himself acting 
unpolitely in walking before her, and turning 
around he made a graceful bow, saying: *Beg 
your pardon. Madam,' and hence the proverb." 

I brought the nettle, I sowed the nettle, and then the nettle 
stung me. (Kashmiri). 

The stin^-nettle is a plant sacred to the Hindoo 
God Siva to whom is attributed the honour of 
first planting it. 

A famous fakir put some mud in the palm of his 
hand; then he planted a nettle in it. Keeping 
his hand extended for several years the nettle 
grew to be a large 4)lant and many of his country- 
men visited him to see the wonder and bestow 
alms. One of his disciples, becoming jealous of 
the fakir's popularity, knocked the earth and 
nettle from his hand, whereupon the great man 
uttered the proverb, intending it to apply not 
only to the nettle but to the disciple. 

If the tail breaks, your head will know who darkened the 
hole. (Gaelic). 

, In his Gaelic Proverbs^ Alexander Nicolson says 
that the proverb took its rise from the following 

"Two men went to a wolf's den, when wolves still 
flourished in Scotland, for the purpose of carrying 
off the whelps. The den was in a cairn with a 
narrow entrance through which one of the men 
crept in while the other stood on guard outside. 
Presently the yelping of the young ones called 
their mother to the rescue and she bolted past the 
man outside, who was dexterous enough, however, 
to seize her by the tail while she was disappearing. 
So they stood, the she- wolf blocking the entrance 
and darkening the den, while the man outside 
held on like gnm death. The man within finding 
the light suddenly obscured called out to his 
companion: 'What's that darkening the hole?' 
To which a reply was made in the words of the 

78 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If it please God I rise, I shall weave a blanket tomorrow. 


Generally applied to procrastinators. 

A certain woman awoke one night and, suffering 
from the cold, declared that if it pleased God to 
keep her from freezing she would weave a blanket 
on the following day, but the following day being 
warm she forgot about her resolution. 

** If this be human, it's light," as the water-horse said. 


According to an old fable the water-horse was in the 

habit of leaving the water at certain times and 

disguising his identity, devoting himself to some 

human being, after which he would carry the 

object of his attentions on his back into the 

deepest part of the lake or sea from which he 

came. One day a young man introduced himself 

to a maiden who was herding cattle on the banks 

of a loch. After insinuating himself into her 

good graces by pleasant conversation and 

courtesies he induced her to permit him to rest 

his head on her lap while he slept. While asleep 

the maiden examined his head and found his hair 

filled with mud and sand. Surmising that her 

new-found acquaintance was none other than the 

water-horse in disguise who would on waking 

carry her away, she dexterously rid herself of her 

skirt, leaving it on the ground under his head. 

Soon the monster roused himself and grasping 

the skirt shook it, sajang as he did so: **If this 

be human, it's light," then he rushed back into 

the water. 

Fm not a scholar and don't wish to be, as the fox said to 
the wolf. (Gaelic). 

"The fox and the wolf, walking together, came upon 
an ass quietly grazing. The fox pointed out an 
inscription on one of his hooves and said to 
his companion, 'Go you and read that; you are a 
scholar and I am not.' The wolf, flattered by the 
request, went proudly forward and coming too 
close to the ass got knocked on the head, leaving 
the fox to enjoy their common spoil. " — Alexander 

Founded on Historyi Legendsi etc 79 

In teaching an ignorant person I became troubled 4n mind, 
for he broke the nest and destroyed the eggs. (Assa- 

This proverb reminds one of Solomon's admonition: 
"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest 
thou also be like mi to him. " — Prov. xxvi : 4. 

The saying had its origin in an old folk-tale of a 
company of parrots that made their home in the 
hollow of a large simul tree. When the birds 
flew away they always left one of their compan- 
ions, an old parrot, to guard the nest and keep 
the eggs from being destroyed or stolen. One 
day in their absence a wild cat tried to climb the 
tree but was prevented by the watchful old parrot 
who observed its coming. The wild cat, seeing 
that he would not be aSole to secure the eggs, 
began to flatter the old parrot and managed by 
fair speeches to throw it off its guard and leap 
on the nest where he feasted on the eggs. The 
old bird, being much chagrined at what had 
happened, explained its failure to defend the nest 
in the words of the proverb. 

June, July, and August and the port of Carthagena, 


A reply of an old sailor to Charles V who inquired 
which port in the Mediterranean was the best, his 
meaning being that during June, July, and August 
all the ports were safe, but Carthagena was the 

Let* 8 see on what side the camel sits. (Behar). 

"He laughs best who laughs last. (English, 
French, German, Italian, and Danish). "Better 
the last smile than the first laughter. ' ' (English ) . 

A greengrocer and a potter hired a camel together 
and each hung a pannier on its side filled with his 
goods. As they proceeded on their way the 
camel occasionally helped itself to vegetables 
from the greengrocer's pannier, which caused the 
potter to laugh at his companion. After a time 
they paused to rest and the camel in seating itself 
naturally leaned to the heavier side, which was 
the side on which was the pannier of pots, break- 
ing all the vessels. 

8o Curiosities in Proverbs 

Let that which is lost be for God. (Spanish) . 

This selfish proverb originated in a will which a man 
made on his death-bed, in which he disposed of a 
certain cow that had strayed from the farm and 
never had been recovered, ordering that if it were 
ever found it should be given to his children, but 
if it were never found it should be considered as 
given to God. 

Like the bird Jatayu deyouiing the chariot (Bengalese). 

Generally used in referring to almost certain evil 
that cannot be prevented by any proposed course 
of action. 

This proverb originated in "a story of that fabulous 
bird (the Jatayu) who flying away with a box 
in which Ravana had shut up Sita, the wife of 
Rama, he could not swallow it lest he should 
destroy Sita, yet his not swallowing it led to the 
loss of his own wings in the struggle to escape 
from Ravana." — W. Morton, 

No money, no Swiss. (French). 

"No money, no Swiss; no pay, no piper." 

The allusion is to a story of the middle ages in which 
the prime minister of a French king is said to 
have remarked concerning some Smss mercen- 
aries who demanded pay for their services, "The 
money we have given these Swiss would pave a 
road from Paris to Basle"; whereupon the Swiss 
commander retorted: "And the blood we have 
shed for France would fill a river frcxn Basle to 

One torn meets another; if rats can eat iron, a kite may 
carry off a child. (Hindustani). 

A man, having occasion to travel abroad, left a 
quantity of iron in charge of a friend. On his 
return after several years his friend told him that 
the rats had eaten up the iron. He said nothing 
but, waiting an opportunity, seized the other^ 
child, concealed him and told his father he had 
seen a kite carry him off. On the other's aUeginjg 
the impossibility of the thing, his friend made this 
reply. " — Thomas Roebuck, 

Founded on History, Legendsi etc. 8i 

On one side the Chevemisa, on the other take care. 


This saying refers "to an unsuccessful expedition 
against Kazan in 1524, when the Tcheremisses 
waylaid the Russian vessels and assailed them 
from the shore." — London Quarterly Review^ 
October, 1875. 

ShaU I pronounce agreeably to the soles of my feet, or 
agreeably to my tongue? (Hindustani). 

A certain dishonest judge was bribed by both parties 
in a dispute. One thought that he would be most 
easily influenced in his decision by a present of. 
something that would appeal to his appetite, 
and so gave him something to eat; the other 
slipped a gold coin under his foot. 

Strike the innocent, that the guilty may confess. (Arabic). 

A cadi once arrested an innocent man and bas- 
tinadoed him. When asked why he punished 
a guiltless man he replied that he did so in hopes 
that the true offender might hear what was done 
and confess his crime out of sympathy and 

The bear wants a tail and cannot be a lion. (English). 

"The proverb is thus explained by Fuller: 'Robert 
Dudley, Earl of Leicester, denved his ijedigree 
from the ancient Earls of Warwick, on which title 
he cave their crest, the bear and ragged staff. 
And when he was Governor of the Low Countries, 
with the high title of his Excellency, disusing his 
own coat of the green lion, with two tails, he 
signed all instruments with the crest of the bear 
and ragged staff. He was then suspected by many 
of his jealous adversaries to hatch an ambitious 
design to make himself absolute commander (as 
the lion is king of beasts) over the Low Countries, 
whereupon some foes to his faction, and friends 
to Dutch freedom, wrote under his crest, set up in 
public places: 

Ursa caret cauda, non queat esse leo. 

The bear he never can prevail 

To lion it, for want of tail. 

82 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Nor is ursa in the feminine merely placed to make 
the vein; but because naturalists observe in bears, 
that the female is alwa}^ strongest.' 

The proverb is applied to such who, not content 
with their condition, aspire to what is above their 
worth to deserve, or power to achieve." — John 

The famine will disappear, but the stains will not disappear. 


This sajring is said to have orie^inated in the story 
of a man who had neglected his sister for so long 
a time that he weU-nigh forgot that she lived. 
On the approach of famine he thought of her 
and wondered whether she had food. In remorse 
over his behaviour he started to search for her 
that he might relieve her sufferings. As he drew 
near her house he was observed by his sister who 
was baking some bread. Not wishing him to 
know that she had food and desiring to discover 
the real purpose of his visit, she grabbed the loaf 
that she was baking from the fire and thrust it 
quickly under her arm. Thus she concealed the 
bread, but so burned her bosom that she carried 
the marks of it so long as she lived. 

«<The mouse is the better of quietness,'' as the moor- 
mouse said to the town mouse. (Gaelic). 

This proverb is evidently taken from the well- 
known fable of JEsop, "The Town Mouse and 
the Country Mouse. 

The peg swallowed the necklace. (Arabic). 

King Vikram in time of misfortune hung his neck- 
lace on a peg. As misfortunes follow one another, 
the necklace soon disappeared. No one being 
able to tell how it was lost, the saying went 
abroad that the peg had swallowed it. When good 
fortune returned, the King found his necklace on 
the peg where it had been hung. 

There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. (English). 

This proverb, says Archbishop Trench, in Proverbs 
and Their Lessons, "descends to us from the 
Greeks, having a very striking story connected 

Founded on Blstoryi Legendsi etc. 83 

mth it. A master treated with extreme cruelty 
his slaves who were occupied in planting and 
otherwise laying out a vineyard for him; until at 
length one of them, the most misused, prophesied 
that for this, his cruelty, he should never drink of 
its wine. When the first vintage was completed, 
he bade his slave to fill a goblet for him, which 
taking in his hand he at the same time taunted 
him with the non-fulfilment of his prophecy. 
The other replied with words which have since 
become proverbial. As he spoke, tidings were 
hastily brought of a huge wild boar that was 
wasting the vineyard. Setting down the untasted 
cup, the master went out to meet the wild boar, 
and was slain in the encounter, and thus the 
proverb, 'Many things find place between the 
cup and lip,' arose." 

The sheep-skin has sufficed to pay the twelve, (Modern 

The phrase is said to have been first spoken by a 
poor drunken currier who, being indebted to a 
tavern keeper for drinks, and having no money 
to pay, took the last fleece that he possessed and 
gave it to the tavern keeper in settlement of his 
account. His wife, missing the sheep's skin, 
inquired of him what had become of it. Though 
half drunk at the time, he remembered enough 
about the transaction to explain in the words 
quoted, which soon became a proverb. 

The weaver lost his way in a linseed field. (Behar) . 

See under this section, " Does a weaver know how to 
cut barley ? " 

See also Wit and Humor in Proverbs: "Now I am 
going to the battle of the frogs," etc. 

Seven weavers lost their way. Coming to a linseed 
field that was in flower they mistook it for a river. 
Removii^ their clothes they tried to swim 
through the blue blossoms. After much labour 
they reached the other side of the field; then they 
counted themselves to see whether any had been 
drowned. This they did several times, but the 
one counting always forgot to count himself so 
that they fixmlly decided that one of their number 

84 Curiosities in Proverbs 

had lost his life in the water, and they returned 
to their homes in great sorrow. 

The above story is not peculiar to the Behar people; 
it finds its echo in various forms and in many 

Proverb makers never seem to have held weavers 
in very high esteem: "Gentlemen are unco 
scant when a wabster gets a lady," "Like the 
wabster stealing through the warld." (Scotch). 
"A hundred tailors, a hundred millers, and a 
hundred weavers are three hundred thieves," 
(Spanish). "The ass eats the crop, but the 
weaver is beaten for it," "The daughter of a 
weaver has a longing to call her sister *bubu. *" 
Bubu is a term of respect used in referring to an 
elder sister in Mohammedan households. "A 
weaver proud as a king with a gagra full of rice 
only," The weaver asks to be let off fasting 
but gets saddled with prayers," "A weaver makes 
a sad hash when required to reap a field." 

"To hear by the noise, it is dulcet in contagion. 
But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? 
Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will 
draw three souls out of one weaver? Shall we 
do that? — Shakespeare. Twelfth Night, 

They that live in glass houses should not throw stones. 


"If you have a head made of glass, do not throw 
stones at me. " (Spanish). 

This saying is generally thought to have come into 
use from the following incident as given by Brewer: 
"When, on the union of the two crowns, London 
was inundated with Scotchmen, Buckingham was 
a chief instigator of the movement against them 
and parties used nightly to go about breaking 
their windows. In retaliation a party of Scotch- 
men smashed the windows of the Duke's mansion 
which stood in St. Martin's Fields and had so 
many windows that it went by the name of the 
'Glass House.* The Court favourite appealed 
to the King and the British Solomon replied: 
'Steenie, Steenie, those who live in glass houses 
shotdd be carefu* how they fling stanes.* 

t f» 

Founded on History i Legendsi etc. 85 

Brewer rightly denies that the proverb originated 
with James I (VI of Scotland). If there is any 
truth in the incident the King merely quoted the 
saying to Buckingham, as a proverb current at 
the time. King James was bom in 1566 and 
Chaucer, who died in 1400, made use of an adage 
which was substantially the same, when he wrote, 
"Frothy (therefore) who that hath an heed 
(head) of verre (glass). Fro cast of stones war him 
in the werre (let him beware).*' 

It is not unlikely that the sajring came from Spain 
and was adapted from the well-known Spanish 
aphorism, "He that has a roof of glass should not 
throw stones at his neighbour" or some other 
phrase of like, import. 

The proverb is found in many languages. 

To fence in the cuckoo. (English). 

"The wise fools of Gotham," "As wise as the man 
of Gotham" (English); "To put gates to the 
fiel4s," (Spanish). 

See Contemptuous Proverbs : " As learnt as a scholar 
o' Buckhaven College." 

There is an old story that in the early years of the 
thirteenth century King John determined to 
secure an estate and castle m Gotham, England, 
and sent a special messenger to look over the 
ground. The town folks, hearing of the King's 
intentions, were in consternation, for they knew 
that if the royal purpose was carried out it would 
be at great expense and would lead to the im- 
position of heavy burdens on the town that could 
not well be borne. They therefore planned to 
circumvent their sovereign's design by acting 
like idiots. When the royal messenger arrived 
he found every one in the place engaged in some 
trivial emplo3m[ient or idiotic pursuit. This so 
surprised and disgusted the representative that 
he reported to his master that Gotham was not a 
fit place for a King's residence as the people who 
livai there were all fools. King John, it is said, 
at once gave up his project. 

Many tales about the Gothamites and their foolish 
pursuits are recorded. Among those best known 
IS one that the people desired to postpone the 


86 Curiosities in Proverbs 

coming of cold weather, and, observing that the 
cuckoo, a bird of sunshine, disappeared when 
the warm months were over, they determined to 
prevent it from flying away, and so retain the 
summer's warmth and brightness. To carry out 
this purpose they joined hands around a thorn 
bush into which a cuckoo had flown, thinking 
that by so doing the bird would be unable to 
escape. From this foolish story came the sa3nng 
above quoted. 

On an eminence about a mile south of Gotham, a 
village of Nottinghamshire, stands a bush known 
as the * Cuckoo Bush,'*' says R. Chambers in his 
Book of Days. "The present bush is planted on 
the site of the original one and serves as a 
memorial of the disloyal event which has given 
the village its notoriety." 

"Three wise men of Gotham went to sea in a bowl. 
If the bowl had been stronger my tale would have 
b€«n longer."— OW Nursery Rhyme, 

"Tell me no more of Gotham fools, 
Or of their eels in little pools, 

Whidi they, we're told, were drowning; 
Nor of their carts drawn up on high 
When King John's men were standing by, 

To keep a wood from burning. 

"Nor of their cheese shov'd down the hill. 
Nor of the cuckoo sitting still. 

While it they hedged round: 
Such tales of them have long been told. 
By prating boobies young and old. 

In drunken circles crowned. 

"The fools are those who thither go. 
To see the cuckoo bush, I trow. 

The wood, the bam, and pools; 
For such are seen both here and there. 
And passed by without a sneer. 

By all but errant fools. " — Anonymous, 

To rob Peter to pay Paul. (English) . 

"The proverb pretty certainly derives its origin 
from the fact that in the reign of Edward VI the 
lands of St. Peter at Westminster were appro- 
priated to raise money for the repair of St. Paul's 
m London." 

Founded on History, Legends, etc. 87 

" Give not Peter so much, to leave St. Paul nothing.** 
"Praise Peter but don't find fault with Paul." 
"Who praiseth St. Peterdoth not blame St. Paul." 
(English). "To take from St. Peter and give to 
St. Paul." "To strip St. Peter to clothe St. 
Paul," (French). "He reives the kirk to theek 
the quire." "Tir the kiln to thack the mill," 
(Scotch). "To strip one altar to cover another," 
(Italian). " Starving Mike Malcolm to fatten big 
Murdock." " The thaich of the kiln on the mill,^ 
(Gaelic). "To steal oil from one temple in order 
to light a lamp in another," (Marathi). "He 
plucked from his beard and added to his 
mustache." (Persian). 


A bark frae a tbethless dog is as gude as a bite. 


An expression of abhorrence. 

A BLACK OX ne'er trod on his foot. (Scotch). 

No calamity or great trouble has ever conie to him. 
He has always had a sheltered and prosperous 

A BLACK SHOE mak's a blythe heart (Scotch). 

There is no reference in this proverb to a new or 
polished shoe but to a shoe bedaubed with black 
soil because of its having been worn by one 
engaged in work. Such a shoe shows that its 
owner is industrious and therefore has material 
prosperity and a cheerful spirit. 

A brilliant daughter makes a brittle wife. (Dutch). 

A CAT IN GLOVES is no ttso to catch mice. (Breton, English, 
Scotch, Italian). 

"A mittened cat was never a good hunter." "A 
muzzled cat is no good mouser. " (English). 

A COTTON CAP has squeezed his head. (Osmanli). 

A CROOKED CHIMNEY, but the smoke goes up straight. 


A dog cannot digest boiled butter. (Hindustani). 

A mean man cannot appreciate a confidential talk, 
but will divulge the most important secrets that 
are revealed to him. 


Curious Objects Referred to in Proverbs 89 

A GOLD BIRD has come into his hands. (Hindustani). 

Sometimes it is said, "The gold bird has flown out 
of my hand," meaning that I have lost the 
favour of my most liberS patron or benefactor. 

A GRUNTING HORSE and a graneing wife seldom fail their 
master. (Scotch). 

Graneing — Le, groaning. 

People who are constantly complaining of ill-health 
generally live longer than others. 

A LOOSE TOOTH and feeble friend are equally bad. (Ben- 

A man without clothes busying himself in making jackets 
FOR DOGS. (Cingalese). 

A NEW SNAKE with its hood on. the tail. (Hindustani). 

This proverb is applied to people who engage in a 
business that they do not understand. 

An idle brain is the deil 's workshop. (German, Scotch) . 

"He that labours is tempted by one devil; he that 
is idle is tempted by a thousand." (English, 
Italian). "An idle man is the devil's bolster." 
(Italian, Dutch). "An idle person is the devil's 
playfellow." (Arabian). "Idleness is the devil's 
couch of ease. " (German). "A lazy man is the 
devil's walking stick." (Welsh). "The devil 
tempts all other men, but idle men tempt the 
devil." (Turkish). 

"For Satan finds some mischief still 
For idle hands to do. " — Isaac Watts, 

A pack of cards is the devil's prayer-book. (German). 

A proud head and halfpenny tail. (Welsh). 


him? Mahidln. (Kashmiri). 

"Mahidfn was a great student. Report says that 
he was well up in all languages and religions; at 
all events he became mad and his name a proverb. 
His son now wanders about the city in a mad 
condition, and everybody does him honour." — 
/. Hinton Knowles. 

90 Curiosities in Proverbs 


A SHORT HORSE is A stuie wispit. (Scotch). 

A TITMOUSE IN HAND is better than a duck in air. (Welsh). 

See Contradicting Proverbs: "A bird in the cage 
is worth a hundred at large." 

This proverb occurs in every nation. Beside the 
forms here given others will be found in the 

"Better the lean lintie in the hand than the fat 
finch on the wand." (Scotch). "A sparrow in 
hand is better than a peacock in expectation." 
(Persian). "A thousand cranes in the air are not 
worth one sparrow in the fist." (Arabian). 
"One bird in the net is better than a thousand 
flying." (Hebrew). "Better a leveret in the 
kitchen than a wild boar in the forest. " (Levon- 
ian). "Why let a bird in the hand go and snare 
one in the jungle?" (Tamil). "Better a finch 
in the hand than a parrot in the Indies. " (Portu- 

There are also proverbs that are from the birds' 
point of view, as for example: "Better be a bird 
m the wood than one in the cage." (Italian). 
"Better a free bird than a captive king." 

A WICKED DOG must be tied short. (French). 

"A curst dog must be tied short." "A mastiff 
groweth the fiercer for being tied up." (English). 
A mischievous cur must be tied short." 

A WILD GOOSE never laid a tame egg. (Scotch, Irish). 

A winkin' cat's no aye blind. (Scotch). 

A youth's promise is like the froth of water. (Welsh). 

Better a lean horse than a toom halter. (Scotch, Eng- 

Toom — i,e,, Empty. Better a poor horse than no 
horse at all. 

"Better a bare foot than none at all." "Better 
some of a pudding than none of a pie." "Better 
are small fish than an empty dish." (English). 

Curious Objects Referred to in Proverbs 91 

"Better coarse doth than the naked thighs." 
"Better walk on wooden legs than be carried on a 
wooden bier." (Danish). "Better a blind horse 
than an empty halter." (Dutch). "Better a 
lame horse than an empty saddle." "Better 
something than nothing at all." (German). 
"Better straw than nothing." (Portuguese). 

Better to wash an old kimono than borrow a new one. 

Be veiy humble, the hopes of men are wokms. (Hebrew) . 

Bury truth in a golden coffin, it ¥rill break it open. 

By appearance an eagle, but by intelligence a black 
cock. (Russian). 

Cast a bane in the deil's teeth. (Scotch). 

Dont descend into a well with a rotten rope. (Turkish) . 

Even A holy cow if fotmd in company with a stolen one 
may be impotmded. (Bengalese). 

"He that walks with the virtuous is one of them." 
"He that handles thorns shall prick his fingers." 
"He that handles pitch shall foul his fingers." 
(English). "He who makes a mouse of himself 
will be eaten by the cats." "He who handles 
pitch besmears himself." (German). "He who 
kennels with wolves must howl. * * (French) . "He 
who makes himself a dove is eaten by the hawk." 
(Italian). "He who mixes himself with the draff 
will be eaten by the swine." (Dutch, Danish). 
"A collector of mummies will be one." (Japa- 
nese). "A wise man associating with the vicious 
becomes an idiot; a dog[ travelling with good men 
becomes a rational bemg." (Arabian). "Who 
lives with a blacksmith will at last go away with 
burnt clothes." (Afghan). "One associating 
himself with the vile will be ruined; it is like 
drinking milk under a palm tree. " He would be 
suspected of drinking strong liquor. (Telugu). 
"A calf that goes with a pig will eat excrement." 

92 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Even if you put a snake in a bamboo tube you cannot 
change its wriggling disposition. (Japanese). 

See Bible Proverbs— Old Testament: "Can the 
Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his 
spots? Then may we also do good that are 
accustomed to do evil." 

Even the Emperor has straw-sandaled relations. 


Everybody must wear out one pair of fool's shoes if he 
wear no more. (German). 

Falsehood is the devil's daughter and sfpeaks her 
father's tongue. (Danish). 

Folks who advise you to buy A big-bellied horse in a 
rainy season won't help you to feed liim in the dry 
season when the grass is scarce. (Trinidad Creole). 

The rainy season is the season dming which there is 
abundant grass. 

Full of fun and foustil like Moody's goose. (English, 


Get the nails of your eyes paired. (Hindustani). 

god's club makes no noise; when it strikes there is no 
cure for the blow. (Persian). 

Going into a river upon a mud horse. (Telugu). 

Do not depend on people who make great preten- 
sions and boast of their power and mfluence, for 
they will fail you in time of need. 

"Trust not to a broken staff." (English). 

Having a good wife and rich cabbage soup, other things 
seek not. (Russian). 

He has cut off the devil's ears. (Hindustani). 

He is so bad that he is more of a devil than the Devil 

Be may sit in a tub of cold water but it will not steam. 


Curious Objects Referred to in Proverbs 93 

He snatches away a flea's hat. (Osmanli). 

He's mean and grasping enough to appropriate 
everything he can lay his hands on. 

"He snatches off the turban of the Kadi." (Ara- 
bian). "He would flay a flint." "He'd skin a 
louse and send the hide to market." (English). 
"He would bite a cent in two." (Dutch). 

He who waits for dead men's shoes is in danger of going 
barefoot. (French, Danish). 

If THE RIGHT THIGH be pinchody pain will also be felt in the 
left. (Malay). 

If the snake wasn't spunky, women would use it for 
PETTICOAT STRINGS. (Trinidad Creole). 

If you wish to be a king become a wild ass. (Syriac) . 

That man is a king who brings himself under sub- 
jection. "He that is slow to anger is better than 
the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he 
that taketh a city. " (Prov. xvi : 32). The power 
to bring oneself under subjection is best secured 
in solitude, hence a man becomes a king by 
separating himself from others and living a 
hermit's life. The wild ass keeps away from 
human habitation, so let men keep away from 
intercourse with their fellow men if they desire to 
discipline their wills. The proverb is intended to 
commend a monastic life. 

I ne'er sat on your coat-tail. (Scotch). 

I never sought to influence you in any way or 
prevent you from carrying out your purposes. 

In the next world usurers have to count red hot coins 
with bare hands. (Russian). 

It is a bold mouse that makes his nest in the cat's ear. 

It is easy to catch a blind horse. (Welsh). 

It is not easy to pluck hairs from a bald fate. (Danish). 

94 Curiosities in Proverbs 

It's nae mair ferlie to see a woman greet than to see A 


Mair — f.e., more. Ferlie — i,e., wonder. Greet — 
i,e,, weep. 


MOONSHINE AND OIL, thoso are the ruin of a house. (Ara- 

To waste oil by burning a lamp when the moon 
shines is folly and a sign of extravagance. 

Naething is got without pains but an ill name and lang 

NAILS. (Scotch). 

NINE IMBECILES who are motmted on a donkey. (Osmanli). 

No more striking picture of imbecility could be 
presented than that of nine idiots mounted on a 
stupid beast. 

Not every wood will make wooden shoes. (Danish). 

Of brothers-in-law and red dogs few are good. (Spanish). 

Only the graveclothes change the physical nature. 


Only THE SILLY DOG chasos the flying bird. (Chinese). 

Our business is like a mule's tail — it grows not and grows 
not smaller. (Bulgarian). 

Prayer comes not in answer to the cat's prayer. (Ara- 

Putting an elephant into a narrow dish; a horse's eggs, 
or a flower in the air. (Bengalesc). 

rotten wood cannot be carved. (Chinese). 

Scanty cheeks mak' a lang nose. (Scotch). 

Curious Objects Referred to in Proverbs 95 

Sometimes a red vest is given and sometimes a kick* 

Sometimes you sow red beans and white beans grow. 
(Mauritius Creole). 

"But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane, 
In proving foresight may be in vain: 
The best laid schemes o' mice and men, 

Gang aft a-gley, 
And lea'e us nought but grief and pain, 
For promised joy." 

Robert Bums. 

SWEET MEATS are not distributed during a battie. (Urdu). 

The envious man has a wicked eye. (Hebrew). 

The fowler knows the serpent's sneezing. (Bengalese). 

The frenchman's legs are thin, his soul littie; he is fickle 
as the wind. (Russian). 

The lazy pig does not eat ripe pears. (Italian). 

The learned have eyes; the ignorant have merely two 
spots on the face. (Kural). 

The PORK butcher alwayls likes to talk about swine 

The smell is gone from the scented leather and it 
remains a common hide. (Hindustani). 

Applied to those who, having come out of poverty 
and obscuritv and having arisen to a place of 
influence anci authority, have lost their money 
and fallen back into their former condition. 

THE WHITE ANT, the Cat, and the wicked spoil good things 

They are galloping a paper horse. (Hindustani). 

96 Curiosilies in Proverbs 

They are setting a wooden horse to gallop. (Hindustam) 
The work that they have started is impracticable. 

Through green spectacles the world is green. Japa-) 


Tie a turban of straw round thy head, hut do not forget 
thy engagements. (Arabian). 

Idiots sometimes make turbans of straw for them- 
selves. Better play the fool than break your 

To A CRAZY SHIP evoiy wind is contrary. (Italian). 

To exchange a one-eyed horse for a blind one. (French). 

Two watermelons cannot be carried under one arm. 

(Modem Greek). 

See Bible Proverbs. New Testament: "No man 
can serve two masters; for either he will hate the 
one and love the other, or else he will hold to one 
and despise the other. * * 

What is obtained on the devil's back is spent under his 
belly. (Welsh). 

When one is thirsty one thousand pearls are not worth 
one drop of water. (Persian). 

When the rain is coming the bull-frogs sing. (Louisiana 

With a single blow he opens not nine nuts. (Telugu). 

Used to encourage the spirit of perseverance. 

"Apelles was not a master painter the first day." 
"Rome was not built in one day." "Step after 
step the ladder is ascended." "Troy was not 
taken in a day." "'Tis i)erseverance that pre- 
vails." (English). "The oak is not felled at one 
blow." "A great state is not gotten in a few 
hours." (Spanish). "Perseverance kills the 
game." (Spanish, Portuguese). "By slow 
degree the bird builds its nest." (Dutch). " Link 

Curious Objects Referred to in t^overbs 97 

by link the coat of mail is made.". (French), 
"In time a mouse will ^naw through a cable." 
"The repeated stroke will fell the oak," (Ger- 
man). Perseverance brings success." (Dutch). 
" Nine-storied terraces rise oy a gradual accumu- 
lation of bricks." (Chinese). "Paris was not 
built in a day." (French). " Little by little we 
become fat. (Turkish). "With perseverance 
one surmounts all difficulties." (Modem Greek). 
"Step by step one goes far." "Step by step one 
goes to Rome." (Italian, Dutch, Portuguese). 

You must walk a long while behind a wild goose before 
70a find an ostrich feather. (Danish). 



A brother o£f ended is harder to be won than a strong city; 
and sttch contentions are like the bars of a castle. 

(Prov. xviii: 19). 
The word offend is here used in the sense of resisted. 

Quarrels between brothers are often the bitterest. 
Someone has observed that when cruelty is 
referred to as ruthless, pitiless, blood-stained, or 
fiendish one instinctively thinks of the feuds of 
Ancient Greece or Mediaeval Europe. 

The strength and bitterness of feeling between 
estrang^ brothers has been expressed in several 
proveAs. In Spain and Portugal it is said, "The 
wrath of brothers is the wrath of devils." The 
Italians and French have the expression, "Three 
brothers, three castles." The French also say. 
"A landmark is well placed between two brothers 

Michael Jermin in commenting on this proverb 
expresses his admiration for brothers who settle 
their differences by lot rather than by strife. A 
better way is that proposed in the Turkish adage, 
"When one hits you with a stone, hit him with a 
piece of cotton, " remembering the observation of 
the modem Greeks, that "Two brothers are one 
trunk; they should mutually support each other.'* 

In considering the proverb it is well to recall iEsop's 
Fables of "The Eagle and the Arrow, " and "The 
Pomegranate, the Apple Tree, and the Bramble." 

A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious 
woman are alike. (Prov. xxviii: 15). 

William M. Thomson, traveller and missionary in 
the East, declares that the force of the saying is 


Bible Proverbs 99 


well understood in the country from which it 
came as the rains often soak through the flat 
earthen roofs of the mountain houses descending 
in numberless leaks all over the room. He then 
tells of a quarrel over some trifling matter that he 
witnessed. A woman, who was one of the parties 
concerned in the dispute, scolded and screamed 
and cursed in a loud voice for hours, ever and 
anon rushing into the room and out again and 
around the court like a fury, throwing off her 
tarbush, tearing her hair, beating her breast, and 
wringing her hands. Sometimes, trembling with 
rage, she snatched up her shoe and shook it in the 
face of the one with whom she was quarrelling. 
(The Land and the Book, vol. ii., p. 261.) 

A seventeenth-century writer thus quaintly alludes 
to the contentions of a quarrelsome woman: 
"There is no flint so hard but the continual 
dropping of water will eat it out; and there is no 
heart so firmly settled in a resolute practice but 
the dropping of a brawling tongue will at length 
eat it out with grief." 

Solomon's proverb may have suggested the English 
saying: "Smoke, rain, and a very curst wife 
make a man weary of house and life," and the 
Danish phrase, " Smoke, rain, and a scolding wife 
will make a man run out of doors." 

A false balance is an abomination to Jehovah; but a just 
weight is his delight. (Prov. xi: i). 

A foolish son is the calamity of his father; and the con- 
tentions of a wife are a continual dropping. (Prov. 
zix: 13). 

A friend loveth at all times and a brother is bom for 
adversity. (Prov. xvii : 17). 

Constancy as a test of friendship is recognized in 
many proverbs: "A friend in need is a friend 
indeed." (English, Scotch, Dutch, and French). 
"In distress will the friend be seen." (Welsh). 
"A fair-weather friend changes with the wind." 
(Spanish and Portuguese). "He never was a 
friend who has ceased to be one." (French). 
" He is a real friend who in the time of distress and 

loo Curiosities in Proverbs 


helplessness t:ikcs his friend by the hand. 
(Persian). "A friend's ne'er ken't till he's 
needed." (Scotch). "An untried friend is like 
an uncracked nut." (Russian). 

"Many kinsfolk and few friends, some folk say; 
But I find many kinsfolk, and friends not one. 
Folk say — it hath been said many years since 

gone — 
Prove thv friend ere thou have need; but, in 

A friend is never known till a man have need. 
Before I had need, my most present foes 
Seemed my most friends; but thus the world 

Every man bastcth the fat hog we see; 
But the lean shall bum ere he basted be. " 

John Heywood, 

A living dog is better than a dead lion. (Ecdes. ix : 4) . 

See Quotation Proverb : " He fled, disgrace upon him, 
is better than God have mercy upon him." 

"A living ass is better than a dead doctor." (Ital- 

To realize the full force of this proverb it must be 
understood that the Hebrews in common with 
others regarded the lion a symbol of royal 
strength and power: "The King of Beasts." 

The lion is referred to in the Scriptures about one 
hundred and thirty times. (See Job x : 16; 
Isa. xxxviii : 13; Lam. iii : 10; Hos. xiii : 7, 8.) 
In Rev. (v : 5) Jesus Christ is called "The Lion 
of the Tribe of Juda." The figure of the lion or 
the lion's face was often used as an ornament in 
Hebrew architecture and sculpture. (See I 
Ki. vii : 29, 36; x : 19, 20.) On the other hand the 
dog was by Jewish law an unclean animal and 
despised. (See £xod. xxii : 31; Deut, xxiii : 18; 
I Sam. xvii : 43; xxiv : 14; II Sam. ix : 8; II Ki. 
viii : 13; Isa. Ixvi : 3; Matt, xv : 26; Phil, iii : 2; 
and Rev. xxii : 15.) 

The proverb is used in many lands, probably 
suggested in all cases by the Hebrew original. 

See note on New Testament Proverbs: "Give not 
that which is holy unto the dogs." 

Bible Proverbs . loi 

A man's goings are of Jehovah; how then can man under- 
stand his way ? *' (Prov. xx : 24). 

"The hand of Providence writes often by abbrevia- 
tures, hieroglyphics, or short characters, which, 
like the laconism on the wall, are not to be made 
out but by a hint or key from that spirit which 
indited them." — Sir Thomas Browne^ 

Answer not a fool according to his folly lest thou also be 
like unto him. (Prov. xxvi : 4). 

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his 
own conceit. (Prov. xxvi : 5). 

See Introduction. 

It is thought by some people who are not familiar 
with the characteristics, growth, and general use 
of proverbs that this saying contradicts the one 
immediately preceding, for this reason it is re- 
peated among the contradicting proverbs but 
under different circumstances both sayings are 
true and wise. The apparent clashing of proverb- 
ial precepts is often due, as in this case, to the 
consideration of principles or practices from dif- 
ferent points of view. 

"In some cases a wise man will not set his wit to 
that of a fool so far as to answer him according 
to his folly . . . yet in other cases a wise man 
will use his wisdom for the conviction of a fool; 
when by taking notice of what he says there may 
be hopes of doing good, or at least preventing 
further mischief either to himself or others." — 
Matthew Henry, 

"This knot will be easily loosed if it be observed 
that there are two sorts of answers, the one in 
folly, the other unto folly." — Peter Muffet, 

A perverse man scattereth abroad strife; and a whisperer 
separateth chief friends. (Prov. xvi : 28). 

The last half of this saying is often used as a modem 
proverb. "The whisperer's tongue is worse than 
the serpent's venom. (Latin). "Gossips and 
talebearers set on fire all the houses they enter." 
(English). "Lies and gossip have wretched 
ofif spring. ' ' (Danish) . 

IQ2 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the 
tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. (Prov. xii : i o) • 

As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that 
wandereth from his place. (Prov. xxvii : 8). 

"He who is far from home is near to harm." 
(Danish). "Travel cast or travel west, a man's 
own home is still the best." (Dutch). 

As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman that 
is without discretion. (Prov. xi : 22), 

As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death; 
so is the man that deceiveth his neighbotu: and saith: 
** Am not I in sport ? " (Prov. xxvi : 18, 19). 

A proverb for practical jokers. 

"The difference between a mad man and a de- 
ceiver," says quaint Michael Jermin, "is this, 
that the one is plainly mad, the other is cunningly 
mad; the one hath too much wit, the other hath 
too little. It is the same sport, which they both 
use, and that is to do hurt and mischief." In 
further explanation of the proverb Jermin re- 
remarks that, "As firebrands are fire at the one 
end, wood at the other; as arrows are softly 
feathered at the one end, but pointed with iron 
at the other; so are the actions and words of a 
deceitful person, friendly in the appearance, 
hurtful in the effect, bringing mischief at last, as 
the arrows and firebrands bring death." 

"A man renowned for repartee 
Will seldom scruple to make free 
With friendship's finest feeling; 
Will thrust a dagger in your breast. 
And say he wounded you in jest. 
By way of balm for healing." 

William Cowper. 

As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to 

man. (Prov. xxvii : 19). 

As is the mother, so is her daughter. (Ezek. xvi : 44). 

See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "Good fruit 
never came from a bad tree." Also Question and 
Answer Proverbs: "Where is this twig? From 
this shrub." 

Bible Proverbs 103 

This proverb was used against the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem who had become evil in their ways like 
the Canaanites. (Ps. cvi : 35-40). 

There are a large number of sayings that dosely 
resemble this one, showing that everywhere men 
have noticed the likeness of children to their 
parents. A few are here given: "As the old cock 
crows, so crows the yoimg." "The young pig 
grunts like the old sow." (English). "Gawsie 
cow, gudely calf." (Scotch). "The young 
ravens are beaked like the old." (Dutch). "He 
that was bom of a hen loves to be scratching." 
(French). "As the old bird sings, so the young 
ones twitter." (German and Danish). "The 
young ones of the duck are swimmers." 
(Arafian). "The young of a cuckoo will be a 
cuckoo." (Behar). "The son of the brave is 
brave." (Osmanli). "Bad crow, bad egg." 
(Greek). "The spawn of the frogs will become 
frogs. * ' (Japanese) . 

A soft answer tttmetfa away wrath. (Prov. xy : i ) . 

As one that taketfa ofif a garment in cold weather and as 
vinegar upon soda, so is he that singetfa songs to a 
heavy heart. (Prov. xxv: 20). 

"Li|:ht hearts may think to gladden heavy ones 
with a carol of airy glee, and their warbling may 
be well meant; but if the heart they sing to is out 
of tune, out of tune will sound their daintiest 
carolings too." — Francis Jacox, 

As the man is, so is his strength. Qudg. viii : 2 1) . 

Quoted by the two Midianite Kings, Zobah, and 
Zalmunna, when Gideon's son J ether would not 
slay them. Not wishing to be hacked down by a 
boy they repeated the sa3ring as a reason why 
they would prefer to meet death by the hand of 
Gideon himself. 

As the sparrow in her wandering, as the swallow in her 
flying, so the curse that is causeless alighteth not. 
(Prov. xxvi : 2). 

The curse that is uttered without just cause is 
forceless and is spoken only to be forgotten, like a 

I04 Curiosities in Proverbs 

bird that alights for a moment and then takes 
its flight. "Curses are like chickens; they come 
home to roost." (English). 

"For curses are like arrows shot upright, 
Which falling down light on the shooter's head." 


A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the 
back of fools. (Prov. xxvi: 3). 

"A fool, says the proverb, is like a beast, not to be 
controlled by appeal to reason. The designation 
of whip for horse and bridle for ass may be in part 
rhetoncal variation: both animals at times may 
have required both instruments of guidance, but 
there may be a special propriety m the terms; 
the ass, the favouiite riding animal, hardly 
needed the whip in moving over the rough moun- 
tain roads of Palestine; but for horses, rarely 
employed except in war and on plains, the whip 
might be useful.*' — Crawford H, Toy in Comment' 
ary on Proverbs, 

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in network of 
silver. (Prov. xxv : 11). 

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed 
speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is 
fully set in them to do evil. (Ecclcs. viii : 1 1 ) . 

"God Cometh with leaden feet, but strikes with 
iron hand," "God is at the end when we think 
He's furtherest off," "God stays long but 
strikes at last," "God's mills grind slow but 
sure," "God permits the wicked, but not forever." 
^English). God waits long but hits hard." 
(Russian). "The mills of the gods grind tardily 
but they grind small." (Greek). God delays 
but does not forget." (Modem Greek). "God's 
mill goes slowlv, but it grinds fine." (German). 
"Sin may lurk, but God deals heavy blows." 
(Arabian). "God comes at last when we think 
he is furtherest off." (Italian and Danish). 
"God postpones; He does not overlook." (Turk- 

Bible Proverbs 105 

"There is a time, and justice marks the date. 
For long forbearing clemency to wait; 
That hour elapsed, the incurable revolt 
Is punished, and down comes the thunderbolt." 

WiUiatn Cowper. 

"Though the mills of God grind slowly, 
Yet they grind exceeding small; 
Though with patience He stands waiting, 
With exactness grinds He all." 

H. W. Longfellow. 

Better a dry morsel and quietness therewith, than a house 
full of feasting with strife, (Prov. xvii : i). 

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues 
with injustice, (Prov. xvi : 8). 

Boast not thyself of tomorrow ; for thou knowest not what a 
day may bring forth* (Prov. xxvii : i). 

Bread of falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterwards his 
mouth shall be filled with gravel. (Prov. xx : 17). 

Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? 
Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do 
evil? (Jer. xiii : 23). 

"Habit is second nature." (English). "To change 
one's habits smacks of death." (Portuguese). 
" In washing a negro we lose our soap." (Turkish). 
"A black cat will not be washed white by soap," 
(Persian). "The tamarind may be dried but it 
loses not its acidity." (Telugu). "If you put a 
cow in a cage, will it talk like a parrot? (Urdu). 
"The wolf changes his hair, but yet remains the 
wolf." "However you bind a tree it will always 
grow upward." "Though you put oil on a dog's 
tail, it will never become straight." (Russian). 
"Will the gall-nut become as sweet as the cocoa- 
nut, though watered with honey ? " (Urdu). 
"Can the crow become white by eating camphor? 
(Behar). "Even if you put a snake in a bamboo 
tube you cannot change its wriggling disposition." 

io6 Curiosities in Proverbs 


Cast thy bread upon the waters ; for thou shalt find it after 
many days. (Eccles. xi : i). 

Casting seed on the waters has been explained in 
many ways: (i) Sowing seed when the nvers have 
overflowed their banks; (2) sowing in moist arid 
fertile places; (3) sowing in land that is being 
irrigated; (4) sowing in the sea where it will appear 
to be lost or thrown away; (5) sowing in low or 
marshy ground; (6) stowing it away in the hold of 
ships as merchandise. 

"Cast thy bread upon the surface of the waters 
that it may be carried into the ocean where the 
multitude of waters is gathered together; so 
shall thine alms, carried into heaven, be found in 
the ocean of eternity where there is a confluence 
of all comforts and contentments." — John Trapp, 

"Beside all waters sow. 

The highway furrows stock, 
Drop it where thorns and thistles grow. 
Scatter it on the rock. 

"Thou know'st not which may thrive 
The late or early sown; 
Grace keeps the precious germs alive, 
When and wherever strown." 

James Montgomery. 

Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an 
evil odour, so doth a little lolly outweigh wisdom and 
honour. (Ecdes. x : i). 

See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "A little 
leaven leaveneth the whole lump," and "Evil 
companionships corrupt good manners." 

See also I Cor. v : 6; Gal. v : 9; II Tim. ii : 17; 
James iii : 5, 6. 

"One barking dog sets all the street a barking." 
"One ill example spoils many good." "One ill 
weed mars a whole pot of pottage." (English). 
"A little spark kindles a great fire." (English, 
Italian, German, Spanish). "A little gall spoils 
a great deal of honey." (French, Spanish, 
Italian). "One rotten apple in the basket 
infects the whole quantity." (Dutch). "One 
rotten egg spoils the whole pudding," "One bad 
eye spoils the other." (German). "A single 

Bible Proverbs 107 

suspicion may destroy a good repute. * ' (Danish) . 
"One mangy sheep spoils the whole flock." 
(Danish and Italian). "Strong vinegar ruins the 
vessel in which it is contained." (Turkish). 
"A coir improperlv twisted will break the whole 
mass." (Malabar). "Of a spark of fire a heap 
of coal is kindled." (Hebrew). "To spare a 
swelling until it becomes an ulcer." (Chinese). 
"A spoonful of tar in a barrel of honey, and all is 
spoiled." (Russian). One piece of arsenic 
suffices to kill a thousand crows." (Malay). "A 
vessel of honey with a drop of poison in it." 

" Now if some flies perchance, however small. 
Into the alabaster urn should fall. 
The odours of the sweets enclosed would die; 
And stench corrupt, sad change their place supply.' ' 

Matthew Prtor, 

Diverse weights are an abomination to Jehovah; and a 
false balance is not good. (Prov. xx : 23). 

Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass, or lowetfa the 
ox over his fodder? (Job vi : 5). 

Even a fool when he holdeth his peace is counted wise; 
when he shutteth his lips he is esteemed as prudent. 
(Prov. xvii : 28). 

See Job xiii : 5. 

"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say. 
abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. 
— George Eliot, 

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an 
enemy are profuse. (Prov. xxvii : 6). 

God hath power to help and to cast down. (II Chron. 
XXV : 8). 

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be 
wise. (Prov. vi ; 6). 

Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman that fear- 
eth Jehovah, she shall be praised. (Prov. xxxi: 30). 

The following German proverbs refer to feminine 
beauty: "Every woman would rather be pretty 

io8 Curiosities in Proverbs 

than pious," "Beauty and understanding go 
rarely together," " Beauty and folly are sisters," 
** Beauty is but dross if honesty be lost," " Beauty 
vanishes, virtue endures," "Beauty without 
modesty is infamous," "Beauty without under- 
standing is vain talk," "Beauty without virtue 
is a rose without fragrance." On the other hand 
the Germans say: "A virtuous woman though 
ugly is the ornament of her house." 

One of the severest criticisms that has ever been 
passed on woman in a proverb is found in Hin- 
dustan, where it is said: "All pretty maids are 
poisonous pests; an enemy kills by hiding, these 
by smiles and jests." See also Grouping Proverbs: 
"Infidelity, violence, deceit, etc." 

"Three things may make a woman naught, 
A giddy brain, a heart that's vain, 
A face in beauty's fashion wrought." 

An Old Welsh Proverb in Rhyme. 

He that givetfa answer before he heareth, it is folly and 
shame unto him. (Prov. xviii : 13). 

See Prov. xx : 25; John vii : 51 ; The Acts xxv : 16. 

" Quick and good go not well together. " (German) . 
Quick and well don't agree." (Italian and 
Danish). "He passes sentence before he hears 
the evidence." (English). 

He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto Jehovah, and 
his good deed will he pay him again, (Prov. six : 1 7) . 

He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it, but he 
that hateth suretyship is sure. (Prov. xi : 15). 

He that passeth by and vezeth himself with strife belong- 
ing not to him is like one that taketh a dog by the 
ears. (Prov. xxvi : 17). 

"He that tastes every man's broth sometimes bums 
his mouth." "Meddle not with dirt; some of it 
will stick to you." (Danish). 

He that guardeth his mouth keepeth his life, but he that 
openeth wide his lips shall ha,ve destruction. (Prov. 
xui : 3). 

Bible Proverbs 109 

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire 
Cometh it is a tree of life. (Prov. xiii : 12) . 

In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided. (Gen, xxii : 

Jehovah-jireh was the name of the place where 
Abraham offered a ram instead of his son Isaac. 
The word means "Thou art a God of seeing," 
and led to the formation of the above proverb. 

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the counter 
nance of his friend. (Prov. xxvii : 17}. 

"A man by himself is no man, he is dull, he is very 
blunt; but if his fellow come and quicken him by 
his presence, speech, and example, he is so whetted 
on by this means that he is much more comfort- 
able, skilful, and better than he was when he was 
alone/'— Peter MuffeL 

Is Saul also among the prophets ? (I Sam. x : 12}. 
See I Sam. xix : 24. 

The sa3ring is an expression of astonishment because 
of the appearance of high spiritual endowments 
and a strong moral and religious tone in the life 
of Saul. 

Let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth; a 
stranger and not thine own lips. (Prov. xxvii : 2). 

"Self-praise is no recommendation." "He that 
praiscth himself spattercth himself." (English). 
Self-praise disgraces." (Spanish). "Who 
praises himself fouls himself." (Italian). "Self- 
praise smells, friend's praise halts." (German). 

Let not him that girdeth on his armour, boast himself as he 
that putteth it off. (I Ki. xx : 1 1 ) . 

Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before Jehovah. (Gen. 
X :9). 

There have been many speculations regarding 
Nimrod and his name is associated with a number 
of old legends. It is said that he was in possession 
of the garments of skin worn by Adam and Eve 
when they left Paradise. These garments at 
first fell into the possession of Enoch, then they 

no Curiosities in Proverbs 

descended to Methuselah and then to Noah, who 
preserved them in the ark during the period of 
the flood. Then Ham stole them and kept them 
hidden for a long time. Finally Ham gave them 
to his son Cush, who in turn presented them to 
Nimrod. As the garments made their wearer 
invincible and irresistible, Nimrod was able to 
overcome all the beasts of the forest and every 
human antagonist and finally to triumph over the 
King of Babylon. Ruling in his place, he extended 
his sway until he became sovereign of the world. 

Nimrod was said to be very wicked and tried to 
lead others into evil ways. In this he was assisted 
by his son Mardon, in whose day men began to 
use the phrase: "Out of the wicked cometh forth 
wickedness, " which afterwards became a proverb. 

See further notes on Nimrod under Proverbs 
Suggested by the Scriptures. 

Lying lips are an abommation to Jehovah; but they that 
deal truly are his delight. (Prov. xii : 22) . 

Out of the wicked cometh forth wickedness. (I Sam. 
xxiv : 13). 

See Matt, vii : 15-20; xii : 33-35; also notes on 
proverbs quoted above: "Like Nimrod, a 
mighty hunter before Jehovah," and "Can the 
Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his 
spots r Then may ye also do good that are 
accustomed to do evS." 

This proverb, sometimes quoted, "Wickedness 
prooeedeth from the wicked," is said to be the 
oldest proverb on record. 

Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before 
a faU. (Prov. xvi : 18). 

" Pride before a fafl." (Hindi) . " Pride goeth before 
and shame cometh after." "Pride breakfasted 
with plenty, dined with poverty, and supped with 
infamy." "You gazed at the moon and fell into 
the gutter." (English). "Pride leaves home on 
horseback but returns on foot." (German, 
Italian). "Pride ne'er leaves its maister till he 
get a fa*." (Scotch). "He who climbs too high, 
the sprig will break under him." "Pride and its 

Bible Proverbs ' ixx 

companion had a fall together." "The lofty 
are apt to fall." "There is no pride without 
humiliation." (Welsh). "Pride leads to the 
destruction of men." (Hebrew). "Pride will 
have a fall." (English, Gennan, Danish). 

"If pride lead the van, beggary brings up the rear." 
— Benjamin Franklin, 

"Pride triumphant rears her head, 
A little while and all her power is fled." 

Oliver Goldsmith. 

"How justly then will impious mortals fall, 
Whose pride would soar to heav'n without a call." 

W, D, Rosecommon, 

See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "He that 
exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that 
humble th himself shall be exalted," and Proverbs 
Suggested by the Bible: "Pride will have a fall. 


Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to 
any people. (Prov. xiv : 34). 

Skin for skin. (Job ii : 4). 

This proverbial expression was quoted by Satan 
and emphasized by the added clause, "All that a 
man hath will he give for his life." 

The alignment used by the adversary was that Job, 
like other men, would willingly relinquish all 
that he possessed rather than part with his life: 
therefore were Jehovah to touch his bone and 
flesh he would at once renounce his allegiance. 

The ear that harkeneth to the reproof of life shall abide 
among the wise, (Prov. xv : 31). 

The days are prolonged and every vision failed (Ezek. 
xii : 22). 

The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children't 
teeth are set on edge. (Ezek. xviii : 2). 
See Jer. xxxi : 29, 30. 

This proverb, as used by the Jews, inoplied^a 
censure upon divine justice which Jehovdh 

112 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The fttU soul loathed a honeycomb, but to the hungry 
soul every bitter thing is sweet. (Prov. zxvii : 7). 

"A good repast ought to begin with hunger/' 
"A man who wants bread is ready for anything/' 
"One may be surfeited by eating tarts." 
(French). "A hungry ass eats anv straw/' 
"Hunger changes be^is into almonds (Italian). 
"Hunger finds no fault with the cooking." 
"Hunger makes hard beans soft." (English). 

"The Pharisees found no more sweetness or savori- 
ness in our Saviour's sermons, than in the white 
of an egg, or a dry chip." — John Trapp. 

Dr. Toy thinks that this proverb may be "an 
allusion to praise and congratulation which may 
be nauseous to him who has much of it, gratcf m 
to him to whom it rarely comes." 

The glory of young men is their strength; and the beauty of 
old men is the hoary head. (Prov. xx : 29). 

The heart knoweth its own bitterness ; and a stranger doth 
not intermeddle with its joy. (Prov. ziv : 10). 

"Every man knows where the shoe pinches." 

The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth 
shall be watered also himself. (Prov. xi : 25). 

There are many devices in a man's heart; but the counsel 
of Jehovah, that shall stand. (Prov. six : 21). 

There is a way which seemetfa right unto a man; but the 
end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov. xiv : 

** If the road be fifty miles long, it may be apparently 
right for forty-nine of them, and because it is 
right for so large a portion of the distance, we 
may hastily conclude it must be right even to the 
very end. . . . It is the last mile that dips down 
into bottomless abysses." — Joseph Parker » 

The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteous 
are bold as a lion. (Prov. xxviii : i). 

Bible Proverbs 113 

They shall surely ask counsel at Abel. (II Sam. xx : 18). 

Abel-beth-maacah (Abel of the house of Maacah) 
was situated in upper Galilee west of TeU-el- 
kadi. At one time it was celebrated for the 
wisdom of its inhabitants. 

Walk with the wise men and thou shalt be wise; but the 
companion of fools shall smart for it. (Prov. xiii : 

What is the straw to the wheat? (Jer. xxiii : 28). 

Where no oxen are the crib is clean; but much increase is 
by the strength of the oz. (Prov. xiv : 4). 

Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein; and he that rolleth 
a stone, it shul return upon him. (Prov. xxvi 127), 

He who digs a pit with malicious intent shall fall 
therein and he who rolls a stone up a hill that it 
may descend on the person or property of his 
enemy will find that it will return on his own head 
and crush him. 

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whosoever 
erreth thereby is not wise. (Prov. xx : i). 




A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Gal. v : 9). 

See Josh, vii : 1-26; II Ki. xxi : 2-17; Ecdes. iz : 18; 
Matt, xiii : 33; and I Cor. v : 6. 

"One spoonful of vinegar will soon tart a great 
deal of sweet milk; but a great deal of milk will 
not so soon sweetai one spoonful of vinegar." — 
John Trapp, 

See also Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "Dead 
flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth 
an evil odour; so doth a little folly outweigh 
wisdom and honour." 

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country 
and among his own kin and in his own house. (Mark, 
vi :4). 

See Matt, xiii : 57; Mark vi : 4; Luke iv : 24; John 

iv : 44. 
See Contradictory Proverbs: "Every dog is a lion 

at home." 

"It is pathetic that, though after the Resurrection 
they [the brothers of Jesus] came over to His 
cause, during His ministry the Lord's brothers 
not merely rejected His claims but sneered at 
them; and once they went so far as to pronounce 
Him mad and attempt to lay hands on Him and 
hale Him home to Nazareth, illustrating the 
proverb, so often on His lips, that * A prophet hath 
no honour among his own people. — David 
Smith, D.D. 

"Joseph when he began to be a prophet was hated 
by his brethren; David was disdained by his 
brother; Jeremiah was maligned by the men of 


Bible Proverbs 115 

Anathoth, Paul by his countrymen the Jews, and 
Christ by his near kinsmen who spake most slight- 
ly of Him. Men *s pride and envy make them scorn 
to be instructed by those who once were their 
schoolfellows and playmates. Desire of novelty 
and of that which is far fetched and dear bought, 
and seems to drop out of the sky to them, makes 
them despise those persons and things which they 
have been long used to, and know the rise of." — 
Matthew Henry, 

"Men will hardly set those among the guides of 
their souls, whose fathers they were ready to set 
with the dogs of their flock." — Matthew Henry, 

"This is the common koreya of the village and 
people style it *Indarjao"' (Behar). (John 
Christian informs us that this koreya is a common 
produce grown in every village in Behar but when 
used as a medicine abroad it is called *'Indarjao" 
— I.e. barley fit for Indar, King of the fairies.) 
"Lame in the village, an antelope in the jungle." 
"The tree in the backyard won't do for medicine." 
(Telugu). "A candle gives no radiance at its 
lower end." (Osmanli). "Fame abroad and 
famine at home." "Fame throughout the coun- 
try, at home starvation." (Tamil). "A Jogee 
is called Jogra in his own village, but one from 
another village is called Sid h . " " One 's own fowls 
are of no greater value than split peas," — i.e, 
things produced at home are despised. (Hin- 
dustani). "The pearl has no value in its own 
shell." "Leave your country if you want glory 
and honour." (Urdu). "A cow in his own house, 
a lion outside." (Marathi). 

As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to tfaem 
likewise. (Luke vi : 31). 

See Matt, vii : 12. 

This precept was not, as some have thought, a 
proverb quoted from the sayings of Hillel or the 
speech of Isocrates. It was one of those matchless 
utterances of Jesus that gripped the hearts of His 
hearers and has never lost its charm and power. 
While it was not a proverb in the days of Jesus it 
has become one in the speech of men and is 
therefore given in this list. Hillel's words were 

Ii6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

negative. Addressing a possible proselyte he 
said: "What is hateful to thee, do not to another. 
This is the whole law, or else is only its explana- 
tion,** but the "Golden Rule'* is positive. It is 
gossible that the thought was suggested to Hillel 
y the advice of Tobat to his son Tobias, which 
was as follows: "Do that to no man which thou 
hatest: drink not wine to make the drunkard; 
neither let drunkenness go with thee in thy 

Gibbon declared that he found the maxim in a 
moral treatise of Isocrates written four hundred 
years before the publication of the Gospel, but the 
sayine to which he referred was not the "Golden 
Rule. Like the utterance of Hillel it was nega- 
tive and was a maxim of justice rather than of 

"Feel for others as jrou feel for yourself." (Tamil). 
"Whatever he does to others he gets the same 
at home.** (Assamese). 

Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and ha 
that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke xiii : 

See I Sam. ii : 8; Matt, xxiii : 12 ; Luke i : 52; xiv : 11. 

See also Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "Pride 
goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit 
before a fall.'* 

"He that exalteth himself shall be humbled." 
(Hindustani and Persian). "He who hiunbleth 
himself, God liftcth him up." (Arabian). 

" He who is proud shall be humbled.** — Rabbi Abira. 

"If I condescend I am exalted, but if I am haughty 
I am degraded." — Rabbi Hillel. 

"The Lord hath cast down the thrones of proud 
princes and set up the meek in their stead. The 
Lord hath plucked up the roots of the proud 
nations and planted the lowly in their place. 
(Ecdes. X : 14, 15). 

If you are a man of distinction and entitled to a 
prominent seat at an assembly, seat yourself, 
nevertheless, two or three seats lower, for it is 
better to be told *go up* than to be asked to *go 
down.* " — Levit Rabba L 


Bible Proverbs 117 

"O God, Thou knowest me better than I know 
myself, and I know myself better than they know 
me. Make me, I pray thee, better than they 
suppose; forgive me what they know not and lay 
not to my account what they say." — Prayer of 
Abu Bekr, First Kahlif of Mecca, when receiving 
praise from others. 

Evil companionships corrupt good manners. (I Cor. xv : 

See Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "Dead flies 
cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil 
odour; so doth a little folly overweigh wisdom 
and honour." See also Curious Objects in 
Proverbs: "Even a holy cow, if found in company 
with a stolen one, may be impounded." 

This proverb was probably common in Paul's day 
and may have come from the sayings of Meander, 
the Greek comic poet who died B.C. 293, where 
it is found. The thought expressed is frequent 
in the proverbs of many nations. 

"He that lies down with dogs rises with fleas." 
(English). "Who keeps company with wolves 
must learn to howl." (English, Spanish, Italian, 
Danish, Dutch, German, French). "Who lives 
with cripples learns to limp." (English, Dutch, 
Portuguese). "One rotten apple in the basket 
infects the rest." (Dutch). "The rotten apple 
spjoils its companion." (Spanish). "If you sit 
with one who squints, before evening you will 
become cat-eyed. " If you sit down with a lame 
man, you will Icam to halt." (Modem Greek). 
"Near putrid fish you'll stink, near the epiden- 
drum you'll be fragrant." (Chinese). 

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your 
pearls before swine, lest happily they trample tiiem 
under their feet and turn agam and rend you. (Matt, 
vii :6). 

See Prov. ix : 7, 8; xxiii : 9; Luke vii : 32. See also 
Bible Provcrbs--01d Testament: "A living dog is 
better than a dead lion." 

"A cocoanut in the hands of a monkey," "A vine- 
yard for crows," "What, boiled rice for asses." 
(Hindustani). "Like reading a portion of the 

Xi8 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Veda to a cow about to gore you," "Though 
religious instruction be whispered into the ear of 
an ass nothing will come of it but the accustomed 
brajring," "Can an ass appreciate fragrant 
powder?" "Does the ass enjoy the flavour of the 
sugar cane that is placed before it?" (Tamil). 
"A garland of flowers in a monkey's paw." 
What can a pig do with a rose-bottle ? ' ' (Telugu) . 
"He who brings up the youn^ of a snake will 
only get stung. (Arabian). It is folly to give 
comforts to a cow." (Persian). "Beneficences 
shown to the mean is writing on the sand." (San- 
scrit). "The pig prefers mud to clean water." 
(Latin). "Gold coins to cats." (Japanese). "Give 
an ass oats and he runs after thistles." (Dutch). 
"A gold ring in a sow's snout." (Welsh). 

"Had the dogs of Christ's day been, at least as a 
rule, domesticated, we may be sure a creature so 
faithful would have been mentioned more 
frequently in the gospels, for they notice it only 
three times: in the proverb, not to cast that which 
is holy or 'clean* to it; in the other proverb, that 
dogs eat the crumbs of the family meal; and in the 
parable of Dives and Lazarus where it is un- 
pleasantly introduced as licking the beggar's 
sores." — Cunningham Geikie, D.D. 

"The more you touch these toads (men filled with 
sinful practices), the more they swell; the more 
you meddle with these serpents, the more they 
gather poison to spit at you. Go about to cool 
them, you will but add to their heat, as the 
smith's forge flies when cold water is cast upon 
it, and as hot water is stirred casteth up the more 
fume." — John Trapp, 

St. Bernard used to quote this proverb when he 
wished to incite the Christian Knights of the 

If the blind guide the blind both shall fall into a pit. (Matt. 
XV : 14). 

See Luke vi : 39. 

"Among wonderful things is a sore-eyed person 
who is an oculist." (Arabian). "The blind as 
leader of the blind." (Marathi). "One blind 
man leads another into a ditch." (French). 

Bible Proverbs 119 

"A blind torch-bearer." (Bengalese). "Can 
the blind lead the blind with a staff?" (Tamil). 
"If the bUnd lead the blind all will fall into the 
fire." Qapanese). 

"Where the blind leadeth the blind, both fall into 
the dike; 
And blind be we both, if we think us his like." 

John Heywood, 

It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than 
for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God. 
(Matt, xix : 24). 

See Mark x : 25; Luke xviii : 25. 

"Perhaps the huge needles used to sew the bags 
which the camels bear may have given rise to the 
saying, for they are threaded with rope like 
cords." — Cunningham Geikie, D.D. 

"To let a camel go through the hole of a needle." 
(Hebrew). "A camels head does not pass 
through the eye of a needle." (Osmanli). "Can 
a camel pass through the eye of a needle?" (Ta- 
mil). "Narrower than the ear of a needle." 
(Arabian from the Koran). The proverb is 
common under various forms throughout the 
East. "They make an elephant pass through the 
eye of a needle. ' ' (Hebrew) . 

"Verily they who shall charge our signs with false- 
hood and shall proudly reject them, the gates of 
heaven shall not be opened unto them, neither 
shall they enter into paradise, until a camel pass 
through the eye of a needle; and thus will we 
reward the wicked doers." — From the Koran. 
(Probably suggested by Matt, xix : 24.) 

"The better sort, 
As thoughts of things divine are intermixed 
With scruples, and do set the world itself 
Against the word: 

As thus 'Come, little ones,* and then again, 
*It is hard to come, as for a camel 
To thread the postern of a small needle's eye.' " 
Shakespeare: King Richard II, 

It is hard for thee to kick gainst the goad, (The Acts 
xxvi : 14). 

I20 Curiosities in Proverbs 

" Kicking against thorns will cause pain." (Tamil). 

This proverb deserves particular attention because 
it was of heathen origin and used by Jesus after 
His resurrection. It is found in the Odes of 
Pindar (b.c. 522-448) and the Tragedies of 
iEschylus (B.C. 525-456) and Euripides (b.c. 
4.80^406), and was used by the Greeks when^ re- 
lerring to the madness of men who fought against 
the gods. 

The phrase was current among the Romans as well 
as among the Greeks, and it may be concluded 
that it was common also among the Jews as Paul 
heard it spoken in the Hebrew tongue. 

Whether the original proverb was intended to 
refer to the ox lacking against a goad, or a horse 
kicking when pricked with the rowels of a spur, 
is uncertain. 

Love covereth a multitude of sins. (I Pet. iv : 8). 

See Prov. x : 12 which may have suggested the 
proverb current in Peter's day and quoted by 
him. See also Prov. xvii : 9; I Cor. xiii : 4-7; 
James v : 20. 

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the 
one and love the other; or else he will hold to one and 
despise the other. (Matt, vi : 24). See Luke xvi : 


See also Proverbs Suggested by the Bible : " He who 
is not satisfied witii the government of Moses 
will be satisfied with the government of 

"He who tries to serve two masters serves neither." 
(Latin). "Who stands hesitating between two 
mosques returns without prayer." (Turkish). 
"Riding two horses at the same time." "It 
is hard to chase and catch two hares. ' ' (A rabian) . 
"He hunting two hares does not catch even one." 
(Russian, Italian). "He who serves two masters 
must lie to one of them." (Italian). "He who 
serves many masters must neglect some of them." 
(Spanish). "Thou canst not serve God unless 
thy mammon serve tl^e." (English). "A loyal 
soldier cannot serve two lords." (Japanese). 

Bible Proverbs 12 X 

When quoting this proverb Jesus added, "Ye can- 
not serve God and mammon" — ^mammon being 
the Syrian word for wealth. 

One Boweth and another reapeth. Qohn iv : 37). 

Physician heal thyself. (Luke iv : 23) . 

See Matt, vii : 4. 

See also Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "The 

Panre would teach others, but himself stumbles," 
and Impossibilities and Absurdities in Proverbs: 
"He who killed a thousand people is half a 

The proverb was sometimes quoted: "Ph3rsician, 
heal thy lameness." 

"Physicians were so unpopular that Jesus the son 
of Sirach exhorted the Jews to honour them." 
(See Ecclus. xxxviii : 1-15.) 

"Aggrieved at His neglect of Nazareth and His 
preference for Capernaum, they (His towns- 
people) had quoted the proverb: Physician, heal 
thyself,* and, capping proverb with proverb, He 
answered, 'Verily I tell you. No prophet is 
acceptable in his native place.* Had they not 
by their attitude toward Him since His coming 
amongst them proved the truth of the proverb 
and justified His action?'* — David Smith. 

This proverb is found in almost all parts of the 
worid with slight changes in form. An interesting 
illustration of its teaching is found in iEsop's 
Fable of The Quack Frog. 

Strain out a gnat and swallow a camel. (Matt, xxiii : 24). 

There is an ironical expression often used in Euro- 
pean Turkey that conveys a similar thought. It 
IS that "A fortress cannot pass through its gate; 
the hazel-nut cannot be contained in its shell.** 

The people of Southern India have the following 
two maxims closely allied to this Bible Proverb: 
"What, do you strain out a gnat and swallow a 
camel?*' and "Those who strain out gnats are 
naturally suspected.*' 

122 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Sufficient unto the day is the eyil thereof. (Matt, vi : 34). 

"Suffidth to the dai, his owne malice." — John 
Wickliffe (1380). 

"The daye present hath ever ynough of his awne 
trouble." — William Tyndale Ci534)' 

"Sufficient unto the daye, is the travayle thereof." 
— Thomas Cranmer (1539). 

"The day present hath euer inough to do with its 
owne grief." — The Genevan New Testament (1557). 

"Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." — The 
Renish New Testament (1582). 

"Sufficient for the day is its own evil." — Syriac 
Peshitto Version, 

The dog turning to his own vomit again. (II Pet. ii : 22). 

See Prov. xxvi ; 1 1 ; Matt, vii : 6. 

"The world is a carcass and they who seek it are 
dogs." (Arabian). "The dogs had enough and 
then made presents to each other of their leav- 
ings." (Arabian). "Cheap meat, the dogs eat 
it. (Modem Greek). "They seated the dog in 
the palankin; on seeing filth it jumped down and 
ran after it." (Telugu). "Scornful dogs eat 
dirty pudding." (Scotch). 

The sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire. (II 
Pet.ii :22). 

See Matt, vii : 6. 

The Arabians and Bengalese have the proverb: 
"The thief and the hog have one path. While 
one delights in evil practices, the other seeks 
physical undeanness. 

"The inhabitants of this warm country well know 
the benefit arising from the constant washing of 
those sheep which they are fattening for winter 
food; and certainly the flesh of swine would be 
equally improved by frequent ablutions. At 
present we do not witness this, for the people do 
not raise hogs. We may be quite sure, however, 
that swine washed in the purest of fountains 
would turn again to their wallowing in the first 
mud hole they could find with all the eagerness of 
their swinish instincts." — W. M, Thomson in 
The Land and the Book, 

Bible Proverbs 123 

The tree is known by its fruit (Matt, xii : 33). 

See Matt, vii : 15-20; Luke vi : 44; James iii : 12. 

See also proverb: "Whatsoever a man soweth that 
shall he also reap," and Proverbs Suggested by 
the Bible: "Good fruit never c»mes from a bad 

"The kind of fruit and its form depend on the tree." 
(Latin). "As a tree is known by its fruit, so a 
knave by his deeds." (Latin). "Thorn trees 
produce gum." (Arabian). "From the jack 
do you get the mango juice?" (Bengalese). 
"He that plants thorns shall not gather roses." 
(Persian). "One knows the horse by his ears; 
the generous by his gifts; a man by laughing; and 
a jewel by its brilliancy." (Bengalese). "As the 
tree so its fruit." (Marathi). A tree is judged 
by its fruit." (Marathi). 

"Though the water of life from the doads fell in 

And the ground was strewn over with paradise 

Yet in vain would you seek, from a garden of 

To collect any fruit as beneath them you roam." 

The Persian Poet, Shaikh Muslihu-'d-Din. 

They that are whole have no need of a phjrslcian, bnt they 
that are sick. (Matt, ix : 12). 

See Mark ii : 17; Luke v : 31. 

There is some question as to whether this was a 
common proverb in Jesus* day, but, as it has a 
usual proverbial form and was possibly a well- 
known saying quoted by Christ, it is given here. 
It has certainly found a place among the proverbs 
of the people since Jesus used it in justification of 
Himself when he sat at meat with publicans and 

Thott shalt not muzzle the oz when he treadeth ont the 
com. (I Cor. ix : 9). 

See Deut. xxv : 4 ; Luke x : 7; I Tim. v : 18. 

"The ox that ploughs is not to be muzzled," is an 
Arabian saying current in Cairo. The muzzle is 

124 Curiosities in Proverbs 

made of rope that is tied to the mouth of oxen 
to prevent them from grazing on the land of 
strangers as they pass along the road. 

"The command not to put a muzzle upon the ox 
when threshing is no doubt proverbial in its 
nature and even in the context before us is not 
intended to apply merely literally to an ox 
employed in threshing, but to be understood in 
the general sense in which the Apostle Paul used 
it in I Cor. ix : 9 and I Tim. v : 18 — that a 
labourer was not to be deprived of his wages." — 
Keil and Dditzsch: (Commentary Deut. xxv : 


Vengeance belongeth onto me: I will recompense, saith 
the Lord. (Rom. xii : 19). 

See Deut. xxxii : 35; Ps. xdv ; i; Isa. xxxv : 4; 
Nah. i : 2 ; Heb. x : 30. 

"The only hypothesis which we can form without 
arbitrariness is, that the form of the saying as it 
is found in Paul and in Heb. x : 30, had at that 
time acquired currency in the manner of ^ a 
formula of warning which had become proverbial 
and had influenced the rendering in the paraphrase 
of Onkelos." — H. A. W, Meyer: (Commentary 
Rom. xii : 19). 

Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. (Gal. 
vi : 7). 

See Job iv : 8; Prov. xxii : 8; xxvi : 27; Hos. viii : 7; 
II Cor. ix : 6; Gal. vi : 8. 

See also proverb, "The tree is known by its fruit," 
and Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "Good 
fruit never comes from a had tree." 

"He who sows thorns will not gather grapes from 
them." (Arabian). "As you do your sowing, so 
shall you reap." (Latin). "As you make your bed, 
so you must lie on it," "He that sows thistles 
shall reap prickles," "Sow good work and thou 
shalt reap gladness. " (English) . "He who sows 
hatred sh^l gather rue," "He who sows iniquity 
shall reap shame." (Danish). "If you sow 
thorns you will reap pricks." (Turkish). "If 
you sow thorns you cannot cut out jasmine," 
"Everyone will at last reap what he has sown. 

Bible Proverbs 125 

(Persian). "Suffering is the necessary conse- 
quence of sin, just as when you eat a sour fruit 
a stomach complaint ensues." "Put your hand 
in the fire, whether willingly or no, you will get 
burnt." (Bengalese). " Doing with this hand and 
receiving the reward with that." (Telugu). 
"When anyone has learned to steal, he must also 
learn hanging." (Malabar). "As you give, so 
you will get; as you sow, so yo\i will reap." 
(Hindustani). "He who sows m this world, in 
the other would reap." (Osmanli). "As we sow, 
so it comes up. " (Marathi) . 

Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be 
gathered together. (Matt, xxiv : 28). 

See Job xxxix : 27-30; Ezek. xxxix : 17; Hab. i : 8; 
Luke xvii : 37. 

By "the eagle" is meant "carrion vultures," 
which were mcluded among eagles by the ancients. 

"Where the corpse is, there will the vulture be." 
(Bengalese). "The carrion which the eagle has 
left feeds the crow. ' * (Latin) . 

"Only deca3H[ng food has the power to charm their 
[vultures*] palates, though it is said that under 
stress of hunger these birds attack and kill 
defenceless small birds and animals by {piercing 
their eyes. Putrid matter, the choicest item in 
the vulture's menu, is eamestljr sought and 
eagerly devoured by them. This is generally 
supposed to be due to lack of strength in claws 
incapable of tearing flesh that has not been 
weakened by decay." — Margaret Coulson Walker. 

Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have 

abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall 

be taken away even that which he hath. (Matt, xiii : 


See Matt, xxv : 29; Mark iv : 25; Luke viii : 18; 

xix : 26. 

"Who hath the head hath the shoes." (Hindi). 

Why beholdest thon the mote in thy brother's eye, but 
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye. 

(Matt, vii : 3). 

See Luke vi : 41, 42. 

126 Curiosities in Proverbs 

See also Quotatioa Proverbs: "The kettle re- 
prpadied the kitchen spoon, 'Thou bladcee/ he 
said, 'Thoa babbler'" and "He who has done 
eating will say, 'He who eats at night is a sor- 

t rf 

The habit of fault-finding is so common that 
hundreds of proverbs closely alHed to this old 
saying are used under various forms in all parts 
ci the world. A few are here given : 

"A pig came up to a horse and said, 'Your feet are 
crooked and jrour hair is worth nothing/'' 
(Russian). "The sieve says to the ne^e, 'You 
have a hole in your tail.'" (Bengalese). "Let 
everyone sweep the snow from his own door, and 
not busy himself with the frost on his neighbour's 
tiles." "The crow mocks the pig for his black- 
ness." (Chinese). "The ass said to the cock, 
'Big-headed.'" (Modem Greek). "They know 
not their own defects who search for the defects of 
others." (Sanskrit). "Chase flies away from 
your own head." "With a mote in the eye 
one cannot see the Himalayas." Qapanese). 
"Though he sees the splinter in people's eyes he 
does not see the beam that is in his own eyes." 
(Osmanli). "The pan says to the pot, 'Keep off 
or you'll smutch me.*" (Italian). "The raven 
bawls hoarsely to the crow, 'Get out, black- 
moor.'" (Spanish). " Death said to the man with 
his throat cut, * How ugly you look. ' ' ' (Catalan) . 
"One ass nicknamed another 'Long ears."* 
(German). **He sees the speck in another's eyes 
but not the film on his own," or ** The blind of one 
eye perceives not the film on her own eye, but 
sees the speck on another's," or "The one-eyed 
woman does not see the speck on her own eye, but 
can distinguish the cataract on another's." 
(Hindustani). "Take the pestle — ^made of wood 
and very heav)r — ^from your own eye, then take 
the mote — a tiny blade of spear grass — from 
another's." (Marathi). "The pot calls the 
kettle black." "The frying-pan says to the 
kettle, 'Avaunt, Blackbrows.'" (English). "The 
mortar complaining to the drum." (Telugu). 
"The sieve with a thousand holes finds fault 
with the sap," — a, basket used in sifting grain. 
(Behar). "The mud laughs at the puddle.'* 

Bible Proverbs 127 

(Mauritius Creole). "'Crookid carlin/ quoth 
the cripple to his wife." (Scotch). 

"That our Lord used familiar proverbs so often, is a 
hint to preachers that they should always keep 
in mind; for such simplicity and naturalness were 
the very soul of His addresses — His words about 
'pulling the mote out of the eye* and 'the blind 
leading the blind,* in St. Luke's version of the 
sermon, were both in the same way proverbs of 
His day. *It is written that in the days when 
men judged their judges, if a judge said to another, 
'Cast the mote out of thine eye,* he would answer. 
'Cast you out the beam from your own eye. 
So says the Talmud. * ' — Cunningham Geikie, D.D. 

"All laws of optics notwithstanding, they see 
through the massive beam in their own eye, and 
in spite of it, if not indeed by means of it, detect, 
discern, demonstrate, and denounce the tiny 
splinter that lurks in the eye of a brother. The 
beam acts as a magnifving glass, and the splinter 
is magnified accordingly. They see through that 
glass darkly; but the darkness is not to them a 
darkness that may be felt. * * — Francis Jacox. 

"In other men we faults can spy, 
And blame the mote that dims their eye; 
Each little speck and error find; 
To our own stronger error, blind." 

John Gay. 

With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and 
with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto 
you. (Matt, vii : 2). 

See Mark iv : 24; Luke vi : 38. 




A double-minded man is a post in the mnd swinging to and 
fro. (Telugu). 

See James i : 8; iv : 8; Matt, v : 24. 

The proverb is applied not only to men who vacil- 
late but to those who seek personal advantage by 
trjdng to follow two opposite courses of action. 

"The word of an unstable man is a bundle of 
water." (Telugu). "Riding two horses at the 
same time." (Arabian). " Who stands hesitating 
between two mosques returns without prayer. 
(Turkish). "Do not embark in two boats, for 
you will be spilt and thrown on your back." 

All seek their own object (Sanskrit). 

See Phil, ii : 21 ; I Cor. x : 24, 33; xiii : 5. 

A match will set fire to a large building. (Marathi). 
See James iii : 5. 

"A little fire bums up a great deal of com." (Eng- 
lish). "Of a spark of fire a heap of coals is 
kindled." (Hebrew). "More than one war has 
been kindled by a single word." (Arabian). 
"A little stone may upset a large cart." (Italian, 

As a man's heart is so does he speak. (Sanskrit) . 

See Matt, xiii : 34, 35 ; Luke vi : 45. 

"That which is in the mind is spoken." (Persian). 
"If better were within, better would come out." 


Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 129 

(English). "As we are inwardly, so shall we 
appear outwardly." (Marathi). "As the life is, 
so will be the language/' (Greek). 

As is the king, so will the virtue be. (Telugu). 

The reference being not to the king's virtue, but^to 
the virtue of his subjects. 

See Isa. xxiv : 2; Jer. v : 31 ; Hos. iv : 9. 

"Such a king, such a people." (Latin). "Like 
king, like law; like law, like i)eople." (Portu- 
guese). "As the king, so are ms people. (San- 

A woman spins even while she talks. (Hebrew). 

See I Sam. xxv. 

Abigail sought her own interests while she talked 
with David. 

The proverb is not intended to teach feminine 
industry so much as shrewdness. 

Blind with both eyes open. (Bengalese). 

See Mark viii : 18; Rom. xi : 8. 

This proverb is used not so much in referring to 
people who lack spiritual discernment as in ad- 
ministering reproof to those who, in excess of 
anger or excitement, do not realize what they 
are saying or doing. 

Bread in one hand, a stone in the other. (German). 
See Matt, vii : 7; Luke xi : 1 1. 

Can water be divided by a stroke? (Tamil). 

See II Ki. ii : 8, 14; £xod. xiv : 16, 21 ; Josh, iii : 13, 

Day and night are one to the Rtder. (Telugu). 

The reference is to God, the Supreme Ruler. 
See Ps. cxxxix : 12; Heb. iv : 13. 

Do not think today of what you are to eat tomorrow. 


See Matt, vi : 25-34; Luke xii : 22-30. 

See Contradicting Proverbs: "Never put oflf till 
tomorrow what you can do today." 


I30 Curiosities in Proverbs 

"You ought not to suffer today the grief which 
belongs to tomorrow." "Enjoy the present time 
and don't grieve for tomorrow." "Who has 
seen tomorrow?" (Persian). This last Persian 
question is often used as an excuse for indulgence 
in pleasure. "Enough for today is the evil 
thereof." "Tomorrow never comes." "Leave 
tomorrow till tomorrow." (Enfi;lish). "To- 
morrow will be another day. (Spanish). 
"Tomorrow is a long day." (German). "The 
provision for tomorrow belongs to tomorrow." 

"Avoid inquiring what is to be tomorrow, and 
whatsoever day fortune shall give you, count it as 
a gain." — Horace. 

" One todayis worth two tomorrows." — B, Franklin, 

"Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do 
today."— Quoted by B. Franklin and by Lord 

Eat and drink and let the world go to ruin. (Arabian). 
See Isa. xxii : 13; Luke xii : 19; I Cor. xv : 32. 

Either friends like Job's friends or death. (Hebrew). 
See Job ii : 11. 

Every Pharaoh has his Moses. (Persian, Osmanli). 
See Exod. i : i ; xv : 27. 

Everything forbidden is sweet (Arabian). 
See Prov. ix : 17, 18; xx : 17. 

Ezcept'the thread of Mary there was none fit for the needle 
of Jesus. (Persian). 

A proverb of respect for the Virgin Mary. 

Father and mother are kind but God is kinder. (Danish). 
See Ps. xxvii : 10; Isa. xl : 11; xlix : 15. 

Give to him that has. (Italian). 

See Matt, xiii : 12; xxv : 29; Mark iv : 24, 25; Luke 

viii : 18. 

Proverbs Suggested 1)y fhe Bible 131 

God afflicts those whom He loves. (Persian). 

See Prov. iii : 12; Ps. xciv : 12; cxix : 75; Heb. xii : 
6; Rev. iii : 19. 

Good fruit never comes from a bad tree. (Portuguese). 

See Matt, vii : 15-20; xii : 33. 

See also Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "The 
tree is known by its fruit" and "Whatsoever a 
man soweth that shall he also reap." 

"Good 'tree, good fruit." (Dutch). "One knows 
the horse by his ears, the generous by his gifts, 
a man by laughing, and a jewel by its brilliancy." 
(Bengalese). "Will the tiger's young be without 
daws?" (Tamil). "As the tree, so the fruit." 
(German). " Of a good tree the fruit is also good." 
(Modem Greek). 

Good to the good and evil to the evil. (Persian). 

See £xod. xxi : 24, 25; Levit. xxiv : 20; Deut. xix : 
21; Matt. V : 38-42. 

Groat cry and little wool. (English). 

See I Sam. xxv. See also Quotation Proverbs: 
"*Mair whistle than woo/ quo' the sauter when 
he sheared the sow." 

"This is derived from the ancient mystery of David 
and Abigail, in which Nabal is represented as 
shearing his sheep, and the Devil who is made to 
attend the churl, imitates the act by shearing a 
hog. Ori^nally the proverb ran thus: "'Great 
cry and little wool," as the Devil said when he 
sheared the hogs.'" — E, Colham Brewer. 

Hast given (the poor) to eat and to drink, accompany them 
on their way. (Hebrew). 

See Gen. xviii : 5-8, 16. * 

This proverb was taken directly from the story of 
Abraham's treatment of the three angels. 

He iias been weighed in the balances and came out want- 
ing. (Osmanli). 

See Dan. v : 27. 

132 Curiofidties in Psnnrerbs 

He is as poor mb Job. (Dtttch). 
See Job i : 20-32. 

He is a wolf in lamb's skin. (English). 
See Matt, vii : 15. 

He sells his friend more easily than the brethren of Joseph 
sold him. (Arabian). 

See Gen. xxxvii : 23-28. 

The story of Joseph is found in the 'Koran and is 
therefore familiar to the Arabs. 

He that retumeth good for evil obtains the victory. (Eng- 

See Exod. xxiii : 4; Prov. xxv : 21; Matt, v : 44; 
Luke vi : 27-38; Rom. xii : 20. 

"It is easy to return evil for evil; if you be a man 
return good for evil." (Persian). 

He that sows iniquity shall reap sorrow. (English). 

See Job iv : 8; Prov. vi : 14-19; xvi : 28; xxii : 28; 
Gal. vi : 7, 8. 

See also Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "What- 
soever a man soweth that shall he also reap." 

He that sweareth falsely denieth God. (English) . 

See Exod. xx : 7; Levit. vi : 3; xix : 12; Deut. v : 3; 
Matt, v : 33; James v : 12. 

He lives in the land of promise. (Dutch). 
See Deut. xxvii : 3. 

He that runs will obtain. (Hindustani). 
See I Cor. ix : 24. 

He was bom with Noah in the ark. (Arabian). 

See Gen. vi : 5; viii : 19. 

This saying is used by the Arabs in referring to any 
practice or monument of great antiquity. The 
story of the flood is found in the Koran. 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 133 

He who is not satisfied with the goveniment of Moses 
will be satisfied with the goTemment of Pharaoh. 

See Exod. v : 21; vi : 9; xiii : 17; xiv : 12; Num. 
xiv : 1-14; The Acts vii : 39. 

See also Bible Proverbs — New Testament: " No man 
can serve two masters, for either he will hate the 
one and love the other; or else he will hold to one 
and despise the other." 

"This saying has latterly been often quoted to ex- 
press that those who did not like the Mamelukes 
must now submit to the still more tyrannical 

fovemment of Mohammed Aly." — J. L. Buck- 

Hopes delayed hang the heart upon tender-hooks. (Eng- 

See Prov. xiii : 12, 13. 

Human blood is all of one colour. (English). 
See The Acts xvii : 26. -^ 

Idleness is the root of all eviL (German). 
See Ecdes. x : 18; I Tim. vi : la 

If Ood save, who can kill? (Marathi). 

See Ps. ckviii : 6; Rom. viii : 31. 

The reverse of this question is sometimes heard in 
Western India. When human effort does not 
avail to save life the people say, "If God kill, 
who can save?" 

If God won't give, how can Solomon give? (Peirsian) . 

See I Ki. X : 1-29; Job i : 21; Ps. civ : 1-35; Ecdes. 
V : 18; vi : 2. 

If men had not slept, the tares had not been sown. (Eng- 

See Matt, xiii : 25. 

If our predecessors were angels, we are human; if ttttiy 
were htunan, we are asses. (Hebrew) . 

See Ecdes. vii : 10. 

134 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If you will be great, then be little. (Bengalese) . 

See Prov. xv : 33; xviii : 12; xix : 23; Matt. 3cvii : 4; 
XX : 26, 27; xxiii : 11, 12; Mark ix : 33-37; x : 35— 
45; Luke ix : 46-48; xiv : 7-1 1 ; xviii : 14. 

In Golgotha are skulls of all sizes. (Oriental). 

See Matt, xvii : 33; Mark xv : 22; John xix : 17. 

In his purse there is the blessing of Abraham the Friend* 


See Gen. xii : 2; xviii : 4; II Chron. xx : 7; Isa. xli : 
8; Gal. iii : 14; James ii : 23. 

In the place of beauty, disfigurement. (Hebrew). 
See Isa. iii : 24. 

In the twinkling of an eye. (English). 

See I Cor. xv : 52. 

"Father, come; 111 take my leave of the Jew in the 
twinkling of an eye."— Shakespeakb: Merchant 
of Venice, 

In truth they must not eat that will not work in heat. 


See Gen. iii : 19; The Acts xx : 33-35; I Cor. iv : 1 1, 
12; II Cor. xi : 9; Eph. iv : 28; I Thess. ii : 9; 
iv : II ; II Thess. iii : 8-12. 

''Paradise, that was man's storehouse, was also his 
workhouse. They bury themselves alive that, as 
body-lice, live on other men's labours; and it is a 
sin to succour them. Seneca professed that be 
had rather be sick in his bed than out of employ- 
ment." — John Trapp, 

does not know Moossa, he knows only himself. 


Equivalent to the sa3dng, "Every man for himself/' 
which is sometimes lengthened by adding "And 
God for us all," or "And the devil take the hind- 
most," or "Quoth Merteine." No such person as 
Merteine ever lived; he is simply an im^^inary 
man to whom is attributed the authorship of 
many proverbs both in England and in France, 
It seemed sometimes necessary to people in Men 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 135 

times to attribute the authorship of a proverb to 
someone to give it authority or quaintness of 
expression and "Merteine" was often selected 
for the purpose. 

*'In the king's court everyone is for himself." 
(French). "At court everyone for himself," 
"Every man is best known to himself." (Eng- 

It is easier to turn the tongue than a big ship. (Gaelic). 
See James iii : 4, 5. 

Jacob's voice, Esau's hands. (German). 
See Gen. xxvii : 22. 

Jacob did not lament so much as he did. (Persian). 
See Gen. xxxvii : 34; xlv : 28; xlvi : 30; xlvii : 27. 

Jesus is a prophet, Moses is a prophet, but the master of 
all is a club. (Urdu). 

A dub in the sense of forceful speech. 

Job was not half so patient as we were. (Persian) . 

See Job i : 21, 22; ii : 9^ 10; James v : 11. 

"The patience of Job is not easy for every servant." 
— that is, for every servant of God (Osmanli). 
Sometimes the proverb takes the form of "The 
patience of Job is not easy for every man." 

Joseph in Egypt is a king. (Persian). 

See Gen. xli : 40-45; xlii : 6; xlv : 8, 26; Ps. cv : 21 ; 
The Acts vii : 10. 

The Persian word used in this connection si|[nifies 
not merely a king in a general sense, but it is a 
common title for the King of Egypt. 

Judge not a man by his appearance. Qapanese). 

See Lev. xix : 15; Deiit. i : 16; I Sam. xvi : 7; Prov. 
xxiv : 23; Matt, xxii : 16; John vii : 24; viii : 15; 
II Cor. X : 7; James ii : 1-9. 

Lean not on a reed. (English). 

See Isa. xxxvi : 6; II Ki. xviu : 21 ; Ezek. xxix : 6, 7. 

136 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Let eyecyone be content with what God has given him. 

See Matt, vi : 25-34; II Cor. vi : 10; Phil, iv : 11, 12; 
I Tim. vi : 6, 8; Heb. xiii : 5. 

Let the ass of Jesus go to Mecca; when it returns he will 
be still an ass. (Persian) . 

See Zech. ix : 9; Matt, xxi : i-ii; Mark xi : i-ii; 
Luke xix : 28-40; John xii : 14, 15. 

The Persians also say, "The ass of Jesus does not 
go to heaven." "Jack will never make a gentle- 
man." (English). "An ape is an ape even 
though it wear golden ornaments." (Latin). 
"An ape's an ape though he wear a gold ring." 

(Like) the lamentation of Adam on his departure from 
Paradise. (Arabian). 

See Gen. iii : 22-24. 

Used in referring to unavaiHng grief as when one is 
in great mental distress because of the death of a 
loved one. 

Man has many devices. (Marathi). 
See Prov. xvi : 9; xix : 21. 

Many things lawful are not expedient. (English). 
See I Cor. vi : 12, x : 23. 

Moses writes so that God alone can read it (Hindustani). 

This curious proverb is applied to one whose writing 
is so poor or illegible that it is practically useless in 
correspondence. In the original it is a kind of 
pun, giving one meaning when written and 
another when spoken. When spoken it may 
signify "He that writes as fine as a hair, let him 
come and read it himself." The Behar peasants 
have the same proverb. 

Nature teaches us to love our friends; but religion^ our 
enemies. (English). 

See Matt, v : 43, 44. 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 137 

KImrod can never go to heaven by the wings of vultures, 
nay by the kick of mosquitoes he ml fall to the 
ground. (Persian). 

See Gen. x : 8, 9; I Chron. i : 10 

See also Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "Like 
Nimnxl a mighty htmter before Jehovah," and 
Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "There is a 
gnat for every Nimrod." 

According to an old tradition, Nimrod built the 
tower of Babel, which was so high that it is said 
to have taken a year to reach the top. It is 
declared that there were three classes of btiilders 
among those who were engaged in its construction. 
The first said, "Let us ascend into the heavens 
and wage warfare with God"; the second said, 
"Let us ascend into the heavens, set up our Idols 
there, and pay worship to them ; the third said, 
"Let us ascend into the heavens and ruin the 
inhabitants tiiereof with our bows and spears." 

The Koran informs us that the tower of Babel 
being destroyed by God, Nimrod planned to 
ascend to heaven b^ means of a chest borne by 
four monstrous birds and contend with the 
Almighty, but when the chest rose from the earth 
it wandered about in the air for a time and then 

Nothing so deaf as an adder. (English). 

See Ps. Iviii : 4. 

Though the adder is not deaf it was regarded in the 
past as at times devoid of hearing. For centuries 
men sought to discover some plausible reason for 
its occasional deafness and the explanations that 
were given were amusing, in that they were 
absuxxl and charged the reptile with causing its 
own de^ness. "The adder," said a twelfth- 
century preacher, "seeketh a stone and layeth an 
ear thereto, and in the other ear she putteth her 
tail, and so stoppeth up both." John Trapp held 
the same opinion, as is seen in his commentary on 
Psalm Iviii :5, for he declared, "The serpent here 
spoken of, when she beginneth to feel the charmer, 
dappeth one of her ears dose to the ground and 
stc^peth the other with her tail." He referred to 
Jerome, Austin, and Cassiodorus as agreeing with 

138 CmiosUies in ProvectMS 

fann, and added that some dedared that "She 
doeth this, although by hearkeoing to the 
dianner, piofvokmg her to spit out her poisoa, she 
wi^t renew her age." George Swinoock gave 
the same explanation of the serpent's deafness as 
did many others in his day. Matthew Henry 
rejected the theory calling it a " vulgar tradition, 
tmt dedared that he bdieved it was generally 
accepted as true in the time of David and sug- 
gested to him the reference in his Psalm. 

There is an old superstition that somewhere on 
every deaf adder's body these words may be 
found in mottled colours: 

"I£ I could hear as well as see. 
No man of life should master me.*' 

At the present time "As deaf as an adder" is a 
common simile, and the following old English 
rhyme taken from the above superstition is still 

"' If I could hear and thou couldst see^ 
There would none live but you and me,' 
As the adder said to the blind womu" 

One Joseph and many pnrchaserg. (Peraan). 

See Gen. xzxvii :28, 36;zzxix :i;xlv 14, 5. 

Spoken of things that are in great demand or 
that are wanted by many people but possessed 
by few. 

There are two other Persian proverbs that express 
the same thought: "One pomegranate and a 
hundred sick," and "One raisin and a hundred 

One plotti^s. another sows, ^o will reap no one knows. 


See John iv : 37. 

Pride will have a falL (English, Scotdi, Hindi, etc.) 

See Prov. xi : 2; xvi : 18; xvii : 19; xviii : 12. 

See also Bible Proverbs— Old Testament: "Pride 
goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit 
before a fall/' 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 139 

"Pride goes before and shame follows after," 
(English). " When pride's in the van, begging's 
in the rear," "Ye'll fa' in the midden looking at 
the moon." (Scotch). "Pride sought flight in 
heaven, fell to hell." (Basque). 

Samson was a strong man yet could not pay money before 
he had it (EngUsh). 

See Judges xiv : 1-20. 

The braying of an ass and the sweet songs of David are 
alike to him. (Persian). 

The children of Adam are formed of clay; if they are 
not humble, what pretensions have they to name? 


The deluge alone can extinguish the fire of the heart of 
Noah. (Persian). 

The faults of a mother are visited on her children. (Tamil) . 

See Exod. xx : 5; xxxiv : 7; Num. xiv : 18; Job xxi : 
19; Ps. xxxvii : 28; dx : 10-14; Isa. xiv : 20, 21; 
Jer. xxxii : 18. 

See also Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "As the 
mother, so is her daughter." 

The fewer the words the better the prayer. (German). 
See Matt, vi : 7, 8. 

The generous man enriches himself by giving; the miser 
hoards himself poor. (Dutchi Danish). 

See Prov. xi : 24. 

"What is given to the poor will be paid on the 
day of doom." (Welsh). "Giving much to the 
poor doth increase a man's store." (English, 
Scotch) . * * Spend and God will send, spare and be 
bare." (Scotch). 

The neatest conqueror is he who conquers himself. 


See Prov. xvi : 32. 

140 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The hand that gives is above (the hand) that receives. 


See The Acts xx : 35. 

Their grandfather has eaten sour grapes and the teeth of 
the grandchildren are made to ache. (Osmanli). 

See Jer. xxxi : 29. 

The Lord will not fail to come, though he may not come on 
horseback. (Danish). 

See Hab. ii : 3; Heb. X : 36, 37. 

The meekness of Moses is better than the strength of 
Samson. (English). 

See Num. xii : 3; Judg. xiv : 5, 6; xv : 4, 14, 15; 
xvi : 3, 6, 12, 29, 30. 

The Panre would teach others; but he himself stumbles. 


See Ps. 1 : 16; Isa. iii : 12; ix : 16; Mai. ii : 8; Matt. 
XV : 14; xxiii : 1-39; Luke vi : 39; John ix : 34; 
X : 41 ; The Acts xxi : 21 ; Rom. ii : 19-23; I Tim. 
i : 6, 7; V : 3-5; II Tim. iii : 5. 

See also Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "Physi- 
cian, h^ thyself." 

Panre is a Brahman sect — the word is used in this 
proverb for one who presumes to teach others. 

"Practise what you preach." "An ounce of prac- 
tice is worth a pound of preaching." "Practice 
is better than precept. " " Example is better than 
precept." "A good example is the best sermon." 
"Examples teach more than precepts." (Eng- 
lish). Example does more than much teaching." 
"Good example is half a sermon." "He is a 
good preacher who follows his own preaching." 
There are many preachers who don't hear 
themselves." (German). "He is past preaching 
who does not care to do well." "Precept begins, 
example accomplishes." (French). "Good 
preachers give fruits, not flowers." (Italian). 

"Men trust more fully to their eyes than to their 
ears: the road is long by precept; by example it is 
short and effective. '^o«i«ca. 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 141 

The i|eople will worship a calf if it be a golden one* (Eng- 

See Exod. xxxii : 1-6. 

There is a special providence in the fall of the sparrow* 


See Matt, x : 29; Luke xii : 6, 7. 

There is a time for all things. (English). 

See Eccles. iii : i, 7; viii : 6. 

"There is a time to gley, an* a time to look even"; 
(Scotch). "Everything has its time." (Portu- 
guese). ''There is a time to wink, as well as 
to see." (English). "Time for food, time for 
worship." (Welsh). "It will happen in its time, 
it will go in its time. " (Hindoo) . * * There is a time 
to fish and a time to dry nets." (Chinese). 
"There is a time to jest and a time when jests 
are unreasonable." (Spanish). "Yule's good on 
Yule even." (English). " Everjrthing must wait 
its turn — ^peach blossoms for the second month 
and chrysanthemums for the ninth." (Japanese). 

There is a gnat for every Nimrod. (Persian). 

See Bible Proverbs — Old Testament : " I-ike Nimrod 
a mighty hunter before Jehovah," and preceding 
proverb!— "Nimrod can never go to heaven by 
the wings of vultures, nay by the kick of mos- 
quitoes he wiU fall to the ground." 

The proverb is taken from the story of Nimrod 's 
war with Abraham as found in the Koran, where 
we are informed God plagued Nimrod *s followers 
with swarms of gnats. One gnat, it is said, 
penetrated Nimrod 's brain through his ear or 
nostril and then increased its size, giving him 
great pain. Finally Nimrod in the extremity of 
his suffering ordered that his head should be 
beaten with a mallet. This practice of having 
his head beaten to relieve his pain was, according 
to the tale, kept up for four hundred years. 

There is more Samson than Solomon in him. (English). 
That is, he has more brawn than brains. 

142 Curiosities in Proverbs 

There is no greater folly than turning back after having 
once ventured to run a risk. (Tdugu). 

See I Ki. xix : 19-21 ; Luke'xvii : 32. 

There mnst be a blow for a blow and a word for a word. 


See Gen. ix : 6; Exod. xxi : 12, 23-25; Lev. xxiv : 17- 
21; Num. XXXV : 30, 31; Deut. xix : 11-13, 21; 
Matt. V : 38. 

This proverb is not used by the Telugiis so mudi in 
the sense of Exod. xxi : 23-25 as in the sense of the 
Italian saying, "One word brings another." 

There will be a day when (one) will see face to face. 


See I Cor. xiii : 12. 

The provision for tomorrow belongs to tomorrow. (Ara- 

See Matt, vi : 34. 

The right hand knows nothing of the left hand. (Arabian). 

See Matt, vi : 3. 

This saying was probably borrowed by Mohammed 
from the words of Jesus. Another of Mohammed's 
expressions is: "A man distributes alms, and his 
leit hand does not know what his right hand 

The son of Noah associated with the wicked; and lost the 
diffoity derived from his father. (Persian). 

The time will come when they will solicit God's mercy 
from Pharaoh. (Arabian). 

Times are so hard that the reign of Pharaoh will 
seem a blessing. 

The tongue produces good and evil. (Tamil). 
See James iii : 10. 

The wolf and the lamb drink together. (Persian).' 
See Isa. xi : 6; Ixv : 25. 

Proverbs Suggested by the Bible 143 

The wolf instead of being falsely accused by Toosoof 
(Joseph) obtains acquittal. (Persian). 

See Gen. xxxvii : 31. 

The Persians sometimes say, "The wolf was unjustly 
accused of devouring Joseph." 

This is not the place for even Gabriel to speak. (Persian). 

An allusion to the necessity of silence on the part of 
those who live under a tyrannical government. 

To become a mountain from a grain of mustard. (Hindu- 

See Matt, xvii: 20. 

Used in referring to anyone who has risen from 
poverty to wealth, power, and influence. It is 
also said, " He (God) turns a grain of mustard to a 
mountain and a mountain to a mustard seed." 

Until I see with my own eyes I will not believe. (Hindi). 
See John xx : 25. 

Were an ant to crawl on the head of Solomon, people would 
not esteem it anv disgrace to him. (Persian). 
People of real worth and high rank do not suffer 
from the disrespect of others. 

What! beautify the outside of a wall, while the inside is 
neglected? (Tamil). 

See Matt, xxiii : 25, 26; Luke xi : 39, 40. 

The Tamil people also say, "Garnish the inside of 
the wall and then the outside." 

What can the enemy do if God be our friend? (Persian). 
See Num. xiv : 9; Ps. cxviii : 6; Rom. viii : 31. 

What dread has he of the waves of the sea, who has Noah 
for a boatman? (Persian). 

See Gen. vii : 23. 

Sometimes the Persians change the form of render- 
ing the proverb and say, "What has he to fear 
from a storm who has Noah with him?" 

The question is asked in speaking of people who are 
under powerful protection. 

144 Cariosities in Proverbs 

What is seen is pecisfaable. (Marathi). 
See II Cor. iv : i8. 

When Chxist was alone the Devil tempted Hiiii* (German). 
See Matt, xli : i; Mark i : 12, 13; Lake iv : i. 

When David grew old, he sang pious psafans. (German). 
See Ps. xzxvii : 25. 

When the tale of bricks is doubled then comes M 

Hebrew, German). 

See Exod. v : 1-23. 

Women are part cut ont of men. (Arabian). 
See Gen. ii : 23. 




A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard. (English, 

See Weather Proverbs: "A green Christmas makes a 
fat churchyard." 

It is an old superstition, without any foundation in 
factf that a Christmas without snow will be 
followed by much illness and many deaths. 
Sometimes it is said, "A green winter makes 
a ^at churchyard." (English, Scotch). "A 
shepherd would rather see his wife enter the 
stable on Christmas Day than the sun." (Ger- 
man). "A mild winter roakes a full graveyard." 

After Christmas comes Lent. (English, German). 

Festivities may begin at Christmas, but they must 
end at Lent. 

A gowk at Yule'U no be bright at Beltane. (Scotch). 

He who is a fool at Christmas will not grow wise by 
the first of May. 

A green Christmas, a white Easter. (German). 

Another year will bring another Christmas. (Danish). 

As bare as the birk at Yule even. (English, Scotch). 

This proverb is applied to people in extreme poverty 
and refers to the Christmas log. It was the cus- 
tom in old England to brine a ponderous log 
from the forest on Christmas Eve and bum it in 
the great fireplace. As the log was drawn along 
the road men lifted their hats in respect, knowing 

lo 145 

146 Curiosities in Proverbs 

that its consumption symbolized the forgiveness 
of injuries and renewing confidences. When the 
log was half burned the charred remains were 
carried away and carefully preserved until the 
next Christmas when they were used to kindle 
the new block. 

"Come bring with a noise, 
My merry, merry boys, 

The Christmas log to the firing. 
While my good dame she, 
Bids you all be free, 

And drink to your heart's desiring. 

"With the last year's brand 
Light the new block, and 

For good success in its spending. 
On your psalteries play 
That sweet luck may 

Come while the log is a tending." 

Robert Herrick. 

As dark as a Tula midnight. (Scotch). 

As fushionless as rue leaves at Tule. (Scotch). 

"I followed my guide, but not, as I had supposed, 
into the body of the cathedral. 'This gate — 
this gate, sir, he exclaimed, dragging me off as I 
made toward the main entrance of the building. 
'There's but cauldrife law-work gaun on yonder — 
carnal morality, as dow'd and as fusionless asTue 
leaves at Yule. Here's the real saviour of doc- 
trine.' "—Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy, Chapter 


At Michaelmas time, or a little before, half an apple goes 
to the core ; at Christmas time, or a littie af t^r, a crab 
in the hedge and thanks to the grafter. (English). 

At Yule and Pasch, and high times. (Scotch). 

The contemplated course of action should be re- 
served for a notable occasion; the garment should 
be worn at a more appropriate time. 

A warm Christmas, a cold Easter; a green Christmas, a 
white Easter. (German). 

Christmas and Easter Proverbs 147 

A Tule feast may be quat at Pasche. (Scotch). 

"A Christmas feast may be paid again at Easter." 

Between Martinmas and Yule, water's wine in every pool. 


That is between November nth and December 25th. 

Christmas comes but once a year. (English). 

It is also said, "New Year comes once a twelve- 
month." (English, Italian). 

"At Christmas play and make good cheer, 
For Christmas comes but once a year." 

Thomas Tusser. 

"For Christmas comes but once a year, 
And then they shall be merry." 

George Wither, 

Christmas has been talked of so long that it has come at 
last (French). 

Every day is no' Yule-day ; cast the cat a castock. (Scotch) . 

A castock is the stalk or core of a cabbage. 

People should be generous at Christmas time and 
spare no expense in entertaining their friends. 
They should not only give what is needful for the 
comfort of their guests but that which may be as 
useless to them as cabbage cores to cats. Christ- 
mas comes but once a year and the opportunity 
for liberality may never come again. The proverb 
as used by the Italians and Dutch is without the 
phrase "Cast the cat a castock." 

Ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve. (English). 

He has more business than English ovens at Christmas. 

(English, Italian). 

"Now all our neighbours* chimneys smoke. 
And Christmas blocks are burning; 

Their ovens they with baked meat choke, . 
And all their spits are turning. 

Without the door let sorrow lye; 

And if for cold it hap to die, 

We'll bury *t in a Christmas-pie. 
And evermore be merry."— nCeorge WUhcr. 

148 Curiosities in Proverbs 

He's a fool that marries at Tule, for when the balm's to 
bear the corn's to shear. (Scotch). 

He that maketh at Christmas a dog his larder, and in 
March a sow his gardener, and in May a fool a keeper 
of wise counsel, he shall never have good larder, fair 
garden, nor well kept counseL (English). 

If Candlemas Day be dry and fair, the half o' winter's to 
come and mair ; if Candlemas Day be wet and foul, the 
half o'winter's gane at Yule. (Scotch). 

Candlemas Day, February 2d. 

"A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are 
signs of a good year." (English). 

If Christmas Day on a (Sunday) fall; a troublous winter we 
shall have all. (English). 

"Lordinges, I wame you al befome, 
Yef that day that Chryste was borne, 
Palle upon a Sunday; 
The wynter shall be good par fay. 
But grete wyndes alof te shalbe, 
The somer shall be fayre and drye." 

Harleian HISS. 

It is supposed by some that "Monday" instead of 
" Sunday " was used in the original proverb. 

"If Christmas Day on Monday be, 
A greater winter that year you'll see, 
And full of winds both loud and shrill; 
But in summer, truth to tell, 
Hieh winds shall there be, and strong. 
Full of tempests lasting long; 
While battles they shall mtStiply 
And great plenty of beasts shall die." 

Harleian MSS. 

U Christmas Day on Thursday be, a windy winter you 
shaU see, windy winter in each week, and hard 
tempests strong and thick. (English). 

If Christmas finds a bridge, he'll break it; if he finds none, 
he'll make one. (American). 

If ice will bear a man before Christmas, it will not bear a 
mouse afterward. (English). 

Christmas and Easter Proverbs 149 

If the geese at Martin's Day stand on ice, they will walk In 
mud at Christmas. (English). 

St. Martin's Day, November nth. 

If the wind is south-west at Martinmas, it keeps there till 
after Christmas. (English). 

I'll bring Yule belt to the Beltane belt. (Scotch). 

I'll not over-eat at Christmas even though there is 
plenty, but will control my appetite and take no 
more than I will have in May when meat will be 

It is eith to cry Tule on anither man's cost. (Scotch). 

It is easy to cry Christmas on another man's cost. 

James Kelly renders the proverb "It is eith crjdng 
Yule, under another man's stool" and says that 
** It is spoken when we sec people spend hbemlly 
what is not their own." 

Light Christmas, light wheat sheaf; dark Christmas, 
heavy wheat sheaf. (English). 

Light Christmas probably refers to the full or new 
moon shining at Christmas time. 

Now's now, and Yule's in winter. (Scotch, English). 

"A return to them that say *Now' by way of re- 
sentment; a particle common in Scotland." — 
James Kelly. 

St. Andrew the King, three weeks and three days before 
Christmas comes in. (English). 
St. Andrew's Day is November 30th. 

The bag to the auld stent, and the belt to the Yule hole. 


Stent — i.e. extent or allotted portion. 

The saying is used to express hunger and is equi- 
valent to saying " My appetite is as great now as 
at a Christmas feast." 

The devil makes his Christmas pie of lawyers' tongues and 
clerks' fingers. (English). 

150 Curiosities in Proverbs 

They keep Christmas all the year. (English). 

They talk of Christmas so long that it comes. (English). 

'Tween Martinmas and Yule, water's wine in every pooL 


Between November nth and December 25th rain 
is so important that its value may be compared to 
the value of wine. 

When Yule comes, dule comes, cauld feet and legs; when 
Pasch comes grace comes, butter, milk, and eggs. 


Whitsunday wet, Christmas fat. (English). 

Whitsunday — the seventh Sunday and fiftieth day 
after Easter. 

Yule is come, and Yule is gone, and we have feasted well; 
so Jack must to his flail again, and Jenny to her 
wheel. (English, Scotch). 

Yule is young on Yule even, and auld on Saint Steven. 


Applied to people who are fond of novelties and 
make much ado over them, but whose interest is 

St. Stephen's Day occurs on December 26th. 

Yule's good on Yule even. (English) . 

Everything in its season. 

See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "There is a 
time for all things." 


A good deal of rain on Easter Day gives a good crop of 
com but little hay. (English). 

'Rain on Easter Day 

Plenty of grass, but little good hay." (English). 

'Rain on Good Friday or Easter Day, 
A good crop of grass, but a bad one of hay." 

' A rainy Easterbetokensa good harvest. " (French). 
"Rain at Easter gives slim fodder." (English). 

<f - 


Christmas and Easter Proverbs 151 

At Shrove Tuesday supper if thy belly be full, before Easter 
Day thou mayest fast for that. (Isle of Man) . 

"On Shrove Tuesday night, though thy supper be 
fat, before Easter Day thou may'st fast for all 
that." (Another rendering) :" Rejoice, Shrovetide, 
today, for tomorrow you'U be ashes." (English). 

Shrove Tuesday — the Tuesday preceding Ash 
Wednesday, known in old England as "Pancake 
Day." About noon, often earlier, on Shrove 
Tuesday, a bell, sometimes called "Pancake Bell," 
was rung. The ringing of the bell was probably 
intended originally to call the people to confession 
before Lent. After confession they were per- 
mitted to make merry with one another. As 
there would be no later opportunity to feast before 
Lent, the time was given over to excessive en- 
joyment, eating and drinking. It is not surprising 
that the noon bell should have come to be re- 
garded as a signal for everyone to stop work and 
Begin feasting, particularly on pancakes, as such 
cakes were regarded as essential to the day's 
festivities; hence the above proverbs. 

"Shrove Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning 
all the whole kingdom is in quiet, but by that 
time the clock strikes eleven, which (by the help 
of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, 
then there is a bell rung, cal'd the Pancake-bell, 
the sound whereof makes thousands of people 
distracted, and forgetful either of manners or 
humanity; then there is a thing called wheaten 
floure, which the cookes do mingle with water, 
eggs, spice, and other tragical, magical enchant- 
ments, and then they put it by little and little 
into a frying pan of boiling sUet, where it makes a 
confused dismal hissing (like the Lernian snakes 
in the reeds of Acheron, Stix, or Phlegeton), until 
at last by the skill of the cooke, it is transformed 
into the form of a Flip- Jack cal'd a pancake, 
which ominous incantation the ignorant people 
doe devoure very greedily." — John Taylor, 

"As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, 
as your French crown for your taffeta punk, as 
Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger, as a pancake for 
Shrove Tuesday." — Shakespeare: AWs Well 
That Ends Well. 

152 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Care Sunday, care away, Palm Sunday and Easter Day. 


Easter comes early, or Easter comes late, is sure to make 
the old cow quake. (English). 

" Let Easter come early, or let it come late, 
It *ull sure to make the old cow quake." (Eng- 

Cow-quake — quaking grass or common spurry. 

"Come it early or come it late, 
In May comes the cow-quake." (English). 

Easter in snow, Christmas in mud; Christmas in snow, 
Easter in mud. (English). 

He who wants Lent to seem short should contract a debt 
to be repaid at Easter. (Italian). 

If Easter falls in Lady-day's lap, beware, O England, of a 
clap. (English). 

Sometimes rendered: "When Easter Day falls on 
our Lady's lap, then let England beware a rap." 

Lady's Day, March 25th. 

Francis Grose refers to this proverb as having come 
into use after the Reformation and intended as a 

grophecy, "intimating," says he, "that the Virgin 
lary, offended at the English nation for abolish- 
ing the worship offered her before that event, 
waited for an opportunity of revenge, and when 
her day, the twenty-fifth of March, chanced to 
fall on the same day with Christ's resurrection, 
then she, strengthened by her son's assistance, 
would inflict some remarkable punishment." 

The old superstition or prophecy has been repeatedly 
found to have been without foundation. While 
calamity and great distress have sometimes been 
the portion of the English nation during the 
years when Easter fell on March 25th, blessings 
that called for joy and thanksgiving have quite 
as frequently followed the event. 

If the wind's i' th' East of Easter dee, yo'll ha plenty o* 
grass, but little good hee. (Engli^). 

Late Easter; long, cold spring. (English). 

Christmas and Easter Proverbs 153 

Owe money on Easter and Lent will seem short to you. 


Past Easter frost, fruit not lost. (English) . 

Septuagesima says you nay, eight days from Easter says 
you may. (English). 

Septuagesima Sunday, third Sunday before Lent. 
The allusion is to the proper season for marriage. 

"Advent marriage doth deny, 
But Hilary gives the liberty; 
Septuagesima says thee nay, 
Eight days from Easter says you may; 
Rogation bids thee to contain, 
But Trinity sets thee free again." — Old Rhyme, 

The monk having observed Easter, returns to his beans. 

(Modem Greek). 

This proverb is applied to people who have per- 
formed certain public duties and met certain 
obligations to the best of their ability and have 
returned to a quiet life again conscious that they 
have earned rest and retirement. 

White Easter brings green Christmas. (English). 

You keep Easter when I keep Lent. (English). 


A closed fist is the lock of heaven and the open hand is the 
key of mercy. (Persian). 

A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected 
without trials. (Chinese). 

A generation is like a swift horse passing a crevice. 


A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment. 


J. Hinton Knowles in referring to this proverb gives 
the following information: 

"This proverb is credited to a holy and clever Pandit 
called Nand Ram, who lived at Ba)?van, a sacred 
Hindu village in Kashmir. This man wrote many 
rather clever verses in praise of Krishna. He 
seems to have been terribly dunned by the officials 
of Bawan, if one may judge from the following 

* Nand Ram was a husbandman, 

And he paid his debts; but there was always some- 
body after him (for money), 

He never knew what it was to live freely in his own 
house, but was continually obliged to lodge in 
the house of another, 

(Never mind), from the seed of contentment a 
harvest of peace will be reaped.' 

The piece of poetry from which the above proverb 
is taken is the following: 

'You should sow the seed of destiny in the soil of 
Dharma (i.e, virtue, religion, duty, law, moral 
and religious truth according to the Vedas and 
the law). 


Graceful Proverbs 155 

From the seed of contentment a harvest of peace 
will be reaped. 

Plough with the two oxen of the two breaths day 
and night, 

Strike them hard with the whip of extreme medita- 

Endeavour so that not a spot of groimd will re- 
main unploughed. 

From the seed of contentment a harvest of peace 

is reaped. 
Break the dods with the staff of love, 
That the damp of envy may not remain beneath: 
From the seed of contentment a harvest of peace 

is reaped."* 

A learned assembly is a living library. (Arabian). 

A loving disposition is a river without a ripple. (Tamil). 

An old friend is a mount for a black day. (Osmanli). 

"A friend is best found in adversity." (English). 
"A good friend is better than silver and gold." 
(Dutch). "A true friend is known in the day of 
adversity. ' * (Turkish) . * * An old friend is better 
than two new ones." (German and Russian). 
"Familiar paths and old friends are the best." 
(German). "My friend is he who helps me 
in time o! need. (German). "Old friends and 
old ways ought not to be disdained." (Danish). 

An old man in love is like a flower in winter. (Portuguese) . 

The German saying, "The old man who is loved is 
winter with flowers," is equally graceful and 

A poor man without patience is like a lamp without oil* 

As the rivers pour their waters back again into the sea, so 
what a man has lent is returned to him again. (Chinese) . 

This proverb refers not so much to the loaning of 
money in business, as the loaning for reasons of 
benevolence. (Ps. xxxvii : 25, 26; cxii : 5; Prov. 
xix : 17; Luke vi : 34, 35). A similar thought is 
expressed in the Turkish axiom : * * Who gives alms 
sows one and reaps one thousand." 

IS6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A widow is a rudderless boat. (Chinese). 

A woman witiiont religion, a flower without perfume. 


"A man without religion is like a horse without a 
bridle." (Latin). 

Broad is the shadow of generosity. (Arabian). 

Death is a black camel which kneels at every man's gate. 


The camel kneels to receive its burden. Here 
death is represented as a camel that is sure at 
some time to stop before every man's door to 
receive and bear away his body for burial. 

Enjoyment is the grace of God. (Hindustani) . 

Even the heart has its boundaries. (Japanese). 

Every blade of grass has its share of the dews of heaven. 


''Ilka blade o' grass keps its ain drap o' dew." 

Experience is the looking-glass of the intellect. (Arabian). 

Falsehood is the darkness of faith. (Persian). 

" Modesty is the light of faith." (Turkish). 

Flowers open without choosing the rich man's ground, the 
moon shines bright on mountains and rivers; only 
within the heart of men is evil; all other things must 
resolve themselves into heaven's parental care of the 
human race. (Chinese). 

Fortune is the good man's prize, but the bad man's bane. 


God is the guardian of a blind man's wife. (Hindustani). 
God rights him that keeps silence* (Persian). 

Graceful Proverbs 157 

God's club makes no noise. (Persian). 

This proverb refers to oppression that one has to 
endure from others, indicating that the cruelty 
and injustice that falls to one's lot should be borne 
with patience as the chastisement of God. 

God's help is nearer than the door. (Irish) . 

Good words are like a string of pearls. (Chinese) . 

Grey hairs are death's blossoms. (English, German). 

"Old age is a crown of nettles; youth a crown of 
roses/' (Hebrew). "Hoary hairs are death's 
messengers. ' ' (Arabian) . 

Heaven is at the feet of mothers. (Persians). 

Children who are obedient to their mothers will 
enter heaven. 

He flings a noose on the star in heaven. (Osmanli). 

Husband and wife in perfect accord are the music of the 
harp and lute. (Chinese). 

In the hum of the market there is money, but under the 
cherry tree there is rest. Qapanese). 

Kisses are the messengers of love. (Danish). 

Life is a light before the wind. Qapanese). 

"Man is a bubble." (Greek). "As wave follows 
wave, so new men take old men's places." " Men 
live like birds together in a wood; when the time 
comes each takes his flight." "A generation is 
like a swift horse passing a crevice." "When we 
take off our boots and stockings today, that we 
shall wear them tomorrow who can tell ?" " Man's 
life is like a candle in the wind or hoar-frost on 
the tiles." (Chinese). 

See Job vii : 6, 7; Ps. Ixxviii : 39; dii : 15, 16; James 
iv : 14. 

158 Curiosities in Proverbs 

** Look at the heavens, how they roll on, 
And look at man, how soon he's gone; 
A breath of wind and then no more — 
A world like this should man deplore." 

Abul Kasim Mansur, 

Life is like the moon ; now dark, now full. (Polish). 

Memory is a falcon, that, if it be caught, is not held; affec- 
tion is a sparrow's nest, that, if it be crushed, is not 
made. (Osmanii). 

Memory is soon lost; love is fragile and must be 
tenderly treated lest it be destroyed. 

Mild speech enchains the heart. (Arabian). 

Nightly prayer makes the day to shine. (Arabian). 

"Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock 
of the night." (English). 

Patience ts a tree whose root is bitter, but its fruit very 
sweet. (Persian, German). 

*'A moment's patience is a ten-years* comfort." 
(Modern Greek). "An hour's patience will 
procure a long period of rest." "The remedy for 
hard times is to have patience." (Arabian). 
"Every misfortune is to be subdued by patience." 
"Patience is a plaster for all sores." "Patience 
conquers the world." "Patience perforce is a 
medicine for a mad dog." "Patient waiters are 
no losers." "Patience is a flower that grows not 
in every garden." (English). "Patience is the 
greatest prayer." (Hindoo). "Patience is the 
key of Paradise." (Persian, Turkish). ** Patience 
excels learning." "An ounce of patience is 
worth a pound of brains." "He that can be 
patient finds his foe at his feet." (Dutch). 
"Have patience, Cossack, thou wilt come to be 
a hetman." (Russian). "He who ends with 
patience is a conqueror." (Latin). "Patience 
and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown." 
(Chinese). "Patience devours the devil." 
" Patience is a bitter plant but it has sweet fruit." 
"'Patience is a good plant but it doesn't grow in 
my garden, ' said the hangman. " " Patience is the 

Graceful Proverbs 159 

door of joy." (German). "Patience, time, and 
money overcome everything." "Who has 
patience sees his revenge." (Italian). "To wait 
and be patient soothes many a pang." (Danish). 
"Verjuice with patience becomes wine, and the 
mulberry leaf becomes satin." (Turkish). "He 
that has patience has fat thrushes for a farthing." 
(English, Italian). 

Prayer is the pillow of religion* (Arabian). 

Sacred is the eartii when it comes over a grave. (Bul- 

Silence is the ornament of the ignorant. (Sanskrit). 

"Silence is the sweet medicine of the heart." 
"Silence is the doak of ignorance." (Arabian). 

Talent without virtue like silver without a master, 

Tears of man for fear of God are the lustre of the eye. 

The almond tree is in flower. (Hebrew). 

The flower of the almond tree is used in referring to 
the silver locks of the aged. The simile was prob- 
ably borrowed from Eccles. xii : 5. The blossoms 
which appear in midwinter after the leaves have 
fallen, are from an inch to an inch and a half 
broad. When the branches of the tree are leafless 
and apparently dead and dry the flowers suddenly 
make their appearance. They are at first tinged 
with red or of a flesh color at the base, but are 
white at the tips, and when full blown cover the 
tree as with a massive bank of white that is both 
beautiful and impressive. When the petals fall, 
the ground beneath the branches is covered as 
though a snow-storm had visited the spot. 

The Hebrew word for almond signifies "waker" or 
"one who is sleepless." Qer. i : 11, 12). As the 
almond tree is the first tree to awake or put on 
the appearance of life it is regarded as the 
harbinger of spring. 

i6o Curiosities in Proverbs 


The hope in dreams of a happier hotir, 

That alights on Misery's brow, 
Springs out of the silvery almond flower, 

That blooms on a leafless bough/' 

The ardotir of parental affection consumes the heart with 
its fire. (Arabian). 

The bending of the humble is the graceful droop of the 
branches laden with fruit. (Persian). 

"The heaviest ear of com is the one that lowliest 
bends its head." (Irish). "Fruitful trees bend 
down; the wise stoop; a dry stick and a fool can 
be broken, not bent. (Sanskrit). "The hxunble 
man is like the earth which alike kisses the feet of 
the king and of the beggar. ' ' (Persian ) . 

The eye is a window that looks upon the heart (Osmanli) . 

"The eyes are a balance of which the heart forms 
the weight." (Turkish). "If the eye do not 
admire, the heart will not desire." "The eve is 
blind if the mind is absent." (Italian). "The 
eye is the mirror of the soul." "The heart's 
letter is read in the eyes." "In the forehead and 
the eye the lecture of the mind doth lie." (Eng- 
lish). "What the eyes see the heart believes." 

The fall of a leaf is a whisper to the living. (Russian) . 

The fear of God makes the heart shine. (Arabian). 

The gravity of old age is fairer than the flower of youth. 


The Great Way is very easy, but all love the by-paths. 


The heart has its summer and its winter. (Osmanli) . 

The image of friendship is truth. (Arabian). 

See Grouping Proverbs: "If a man commit these 
three things, etc." 

This proverb is Arabian though used in Egypt. 
Referring to it J. L. Burckhardt said: "It is to be 

Graceful Proverbs i6i 

wished that the Egyptians would take this maxim 
as their guide. Truth in friendship does not 
occur in the East. I can at least conscientiously 
declare that neither in Syria nor Egypt did any 
instance of its appearing under dimcult circum- 
stances ever come within my observation; but, 
on the contrary, numerous cases were those who 
called themselves friends, betrayed each other 
on the slightest prospect of gain or through fear 
or some other base motive." 

The ladder of knowledge reaches beyond the ladder of 
life." (Arabian). 

The lamp of a dark house: a son. (Hindustani). 

"A good son is the light of his family." (Telugu). 
''Who has no sonhasnosatisfaction. " (Cingalese). 

The nest of a blind bird is made by God. (Turkish) . 

Sometimes the Turks in referring to strangers say, 
"God makes the nest of the bird from foreign 

The pine stands afar and whispers to its own forest. 


In this proverb one seems to hear the moaning of 
the wind amoujp; the pines, so familiar to the ears 
of the people 6f Russia. 

The pious need no memorial; their deeds are their me- 
morial. (Hebrew). 

There is a road from heart to heart. (Osmanli). 

The sandal tree perfumes the axe that fells it (Indian). 

This proverb is intended to inculcate the duty of 
returning good for evil. 

The ship of him who confides in God founders not. (Os- 

The soul is the ship, reason is the helm, the oars are the 
soul's thoughts, and truth is the port (Turkish). 

The stars make no noise. (Irish). 


1 62 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The tiles which protect thee in the wet season were fab- 
ricated in the dry. (Chinese). 

"Provision in season makes a bein (comfortable) 
house." (Scotch). 

The water of God for the pines of the wood. (Kashmiri). 

The cedar, pine, and spruce are common on the 
Himalayas, so that the proverb would be natural 
to the Kashmiri people m speaking of God's care. 

The withered rose of a poor tendriL (Osmanli). 

The woof of old age and the warp of death are the same. 


They divided the flowers; the rose fell to the lot of the 
thorn. (Osmanli). 

"Among thorns grow roses." "Pluck the rose and 
leave the thorn." "Every rose has its thorn." 
(Italian). "Without thorns no roses." "No 
house without a mouse, no bam without com, 
no rose without a thorn." "Under the thorn 
grow the roses." (German). "For the rose the 
thorn is often plucked." "A rose between two 
thorns." "Gather the rose and leave the thorn 
behind." "Roses have thorns." (English). 
"He who would gather roses must not fear 
thoms." "Roses fall but the thorns remain." 
(Dutch). "From the thom springs the rose, and 
from the rose the thom." (Modem Greek). 

Though the birds of the forest have no gamers, the wide 
world is before them. (Chinese). 

Though the sky of this tearnstained world is overcast 
with clouds, the light of truth shines in the heart. 


Time flies like an kttow, days and months as a shutfle. 


See Job vii : 6; Isa. xxxviii : 12. 

Today is the elder brother of tomorrow, and a copious dew 
is the elder brother of the rain. (Yomba — ^West- 

Graceful Proverbs 163 

To Usht a lamp In the house is like the flowering of the 
lotos on the lake. (Kashmiri). 

To meet an old friend in a distant country is like the 
delight of rain after a long draught. (Chinese). 

Truth has a handsome countenance but torn garments* 


Truth is the gate of justice. (Osmanli). 

Unfading are the gardens of kindness. (Modem Greek). 

Unpolished pearls never shine. Qapanese). 

When folly passes by, reason draws back. (Japanese). 

When the hand ceases to scatter, the mouth ceases to 
praise. (Irish). 

When the heart within is enlightened with cheer and 
brightness it is heaven's haU; when the heart within 
is daric and gloomy, then it is earth's prison. (Chinese). 

We are full of sins, and Thou (O God) art an ocean of 
mercy. (Persian). 

With opposing warriors, he who has pity conquers. 


Tooth is a crown of roses, old age a crown of willows. 



A blind woman shaves an insane on^ (Arabian). 

"The libdn shdmy is a white shining gum of a 
glutinous quality, a kind of turpentine that is 
unported into Egypt from the islands of the 
Archipelago, particularly from Scio, where it is 
produced from a species of fir. It is used in a 
melted state, the finger being dipped into it and 
rubbed over the face, by which process all the 
hair to which it sticks is eradicatea. The women 
of Cairo, whose beauty is obscured by hair on the 
skin, avail themselves of this depilatory." — 
/. L, Buckhardt in Arabic Proverbs, 

The proverb is used by the Arabs in Cairo in speak- 
ing of people who are employed in occupations to 
which they are not fitted. 

A tnmgalow upon an inch of ground. (Kashmiri). 

"The protuberance is larger than the bodv." 
"The pearl (in her nose ring) is heavier than her 
nose." "A man as big as your fist, his beard a 
cubit long." (Marathi). "The kakri is one 
cubit long; its seed nine cubits." The kakri is a 
kind of cucumber. (Behar). "A cucumber 
twelve cubits long, with seeds thirteen cubits." 
(Bengalese). "A staff a cubit long in a house a 
span wide." "A stick two vards long in a room 
one cubit square." (Telugu). 

The above proverbs are applied to people who make 
great preparations for some trifling matter, who 
spend money beyond their ability, who make great 
pretensions or who try to carry a larger re- 
sponsibility than they are able. They are also 
sometimes used as retorts. 


Impossibilities and Absurdities 165 

A garland of flowers in a monkey's paw. (Telugu). 

See Biblical Proverbs — New Testament: "Give not 
that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast 
your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample 
them tmder their feet and turn again and rend 

Aggrieved because she had no eyes, she purchased a 
looking-glass for two derhems. (Arabian). 

A good head has one hundred hands. (Russian). 

A miss is as good as a mile. (English). 

The origin of this absurd proverb is unknown, but it 
has been conjectured that it is a corruption of the 
sa)nng, "Amis is as good as Amile," Amis and 
Amile being legendary soldiers of Charlemagne 
who were alike in many things. 

A mountain hid behind a straw. (Hindustani). 

A great opportunity easily seen, or a great benefit 
easily obtained. 

Among ten men nine are women. (Turkish). 

Only one man in ten has manly qualities. 

A painting on water. (Persian). 

An undertaking that amounted to nothing. 

As comely as a cow in a cage. (English). 

"Whatever she were then (said one), she is now 
To become a bride, as meet as a sow 
To bear a saddle. She is, in this marriage, 
As comely as is a cow in a cage." 

John Heywood, 

A scorpion never stung me, but I cured myself with its 
grease. (Italian). 

As the bird flies I can count his feathers. (Bengalese). 

You cannot deceive me with all your plausible 
arguments and explanations. I see through your 
scheme and know your deceitful and knavish 

i66 Curiosities in Proverbs 

As wondeffol as a bollock climbing a tree, or the lobe of the 
ear pierced with a holonga. (Assamese). 

Both men and women pierce their ears in Assam. 

The holonga is a pole that is balanced on the 
shotilders and always used in carrying burdens 
which are suspended from the ends. 

A toad propping a bed-post firmly. (Chinese). 

Can your house be burnt down with hot water? (Telugu) . 

Deaf people sometimes hear quickly. (Japanese). 

Digging up a mountain to catch a rat. (Telugu). 

Do not squeeze sour grape juice in your eye. (Osmanli). 

Your troubles are of your own making. Do not 
vex your mind over matters that do not concern 

Do you want a stone roller to break an egg with? (Telugu) . 

Fried wind and snow on the spit. (Modem Greek) . 

The occurrences that you describe are impossible. 

He blew a conch to report that there was nothing; and 
beat a drum to intimate that there was not even that. 


He blushes like a black dog. (English). 

He calls for a shoeing-hom to help on his gloves. (E^S* 

He catches the wind with a net. (English). 

Many such absurd expressions are used to express 
the futility of attempting to accomplish the 

"He gives straw to his dog and bones to his ass." 
"He is building a bridge over the sea." "He is 
making ropes of sand." "He numbers the 
waves." " He ploughs the air." "He seeks wool on 

Impossibilities and Absurdities 167 

an ass." "He takes a spear to kill a fly." "You 
ask an elm-tree for pears." "You go to a goat 
to buy wool." " You look for hot water under the 
ice." (English). "He draws water with a 
sieve." "He hides the sun with a sieve." 
(Modem Greek). "To drink from a colander." 
"You use a lantern at noon day." (Latin), 
"To dig a well with a needle." (Turkish). "To 
go with a sieve to fetch water." "He gathers 
nuts among the rushes." (Welsh). 

He displays his horsemanship in an earfheii pot. (Tamil). 

He fled from the rain and sat down tmder the water-spout. 

1 / (Arabian). 

He gave him vinegar to drink upon the wings of flies* 


He tormented him in the most cruel and deliberate 
way that was possible. 

He makes the camel leap a ditch. (Osmanli). 

He said tliat the stork died while waiting for the ocean to 
dry in the hope of getting a supply of dried fish. 


He sees a glowworm and thinks it a conflagration. 


He's unco fond 0' farming that wad harrow wi' the cat. 


He tells me to put the elephant into the cotton basket, to 
place the basket on his head, and to lift him up. 


He who has killed a thousand persons is half a doctor. 


See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "Physician, 
heal thyself." 

All nations unite in holding phj^icians responsible 
not only for the cure but also for the death of 
their patients. The common i)eople of every 
age have derided and ridiculed their claims, as they 
have the claims of priests and lawyers. This 

1 68 Curiosities in Proverbs 

is not surprising when it is remembered that 
nearly all the proverbs now in use originated in 
times of man's ignorance and when superstition 
had much to do with all the affairs of life and 
influenced both phy^dans and patients in their 
opinions and practices. A few proverbs will 
indicate the nature of the taunts that were in 
common use among men. 

"A broken apothecary, a new doctor." "God 
healeth and the ph3rsician hath the thanks." 
"Physicians' faults are covered with earth and 
rich men's with money." "The patient is not 
likely to recover who makes the doctor his heir." 
"The doctor seldom takes phytic." "With 
respect to the gout, the physician is but a lout." 
"Tune cures more than the doctor." "While the 
doctors consult the patient dies." "Diet cures 
more than the lancet.'' "The physician owes 
all to the patient, but the patient owes nothing 
to him but a little money." (English). "Do 
not dwell in a city whose governor is a physi- 
cian." (Hebrew). "The physician takes the 
fee but God sends the ctu'e." (German, Spanish). 
"A new doctor, a new grave-digger." "A young 
physician should have three graveyards. 

New doctor, new churchyard." "No physician 
is better than three."* "When you call the 
physician, call the judge to make your will." 
"Who has a physician has an executioner." 
(German). "Time and not medicine cures the 
sick." "The earth hides as it takes the physi- 
cian's mistakes." "The doctor says that there 
is no hope, and as he does the killing he ought to 
know." (Spanish). "The doctor's child dies 
not from disease but from medicine." (Tamil). 
"Everyone ought to be his own physician." 
(Modem (^reekj. "God is the restorer of health 
and the phj^idan puts the fee in his pocket." 
"'Tis not the doctor who should drink the 
physic." (Italian). "The blunders of physi- 
cians are covered by the earth." "If you have a 
friend who is a physidan, send him to the house 
erf your enemy.' (Portuguese). "If the doctor 
cures the sun sees it, but if he kills the earth 
hides it." (Scotch). "The doctor is often more 
to be feared than_the_disease." (French). 

Impossibilities and Absurdities 169 

His head aches that has no head. (Bengalese). 

This proverb is applied to men who are over desir- 
ous to obtain that which is unattainable. There 
is a similar Sanskrit proverb: ''Headache where 
the head is wanting. 

His nose is cut off and he says " There is a hole.'' (Mara- 

If a serpent love thee, wear him as a necklace. (Arabian). 

Court the good opinion of those whom you fear; 
treat with great consideration and politeness 
those who have it in their power to injure you. 

If iron becomes copper, a straw may become a pillar. 


Both are impossible, so also is the matter about 
which you speak. 

If the ocean were to become doudSy the world would be 
flooded. (Tamil). 

If your grandmother were masculine we would call her 
grandfather. (Modem Greek). 

Is the dephant in the rice^pot or in the water-pot? (Tamil). 

"If an elephant be lost, is it to be sought in an 
earthen pot? "The same reason is applicable 
alike to elephants and earthen pots. "She 
will stab the elephant and cover it with a sieve." 
" Having tied the elephant she will cover it with a 
winnowing fan." "Like putting one's hand 
into a water-pot in search of a missing elephant." 

It is likely the sea will take fire. (Osmanli). 

"Pigs might fly, but they're very unlikely birds." 

It is said that the horse has not only thrown its rider, but is 
digging his grave. (Tamil). 

If s as true as Biglam's cat crew, and the cock rock'd the 
cradle. (Scotch). 

It is not true. 



170 Curiosities in Proverbs 

It's by the mouth o' the cow that the milk comes. (Scotch). 

You must not expect good milk from an ill fed cow. 

" The cow little giveth, that hardly Hveth." " It is 
by the head the cow gi'es milk." "As the cow 
feeds, so she bleeds. (English). "The cow 
chives milk through her mouth." (German). 
"Whether in strath, or in glen, 'tis from her head 
the cow's milk comes." (Gaelic). "Out of her 
head the cow is milked." (Irish). 

If 8 lang or ye need cty ** Schew " to an egg. (Scotch). 

One-eyed men have a vein extra. (Hindustani). 

By the loss of one eye they have increased the power 
of vision in the. other. One-eyed people are 
supposed to have greater knowledge than others. 

Putting the cart before the horse. (Welsh). 

Fotmd in various forms among all people. 

Putting the heaviest load on the weakest horse. (Welsh). 

Put your head under your arm. (Hindustani). 

Sending a duck to fetch geese from the water. (Welsh). 

Shave the egg and take its hair. (Modem Greek). 

"You can't get blood from a stone." "You can't 
flay a stone." "You can't strip a naked man." 
"C)ne cannot shear a naked sheep." (English). 
"It's ill to tak' the breeks aff a Hiellandman." 
(Scotch). "It's hard to take the horns off a 
hornless cow." (Gaelic). "One can't comb a 
thing that has no hair." "You cannot get oil 
out of a wall." (French). "You cannot draw 
blood from a turnip." "You cannot damage a 
wrecked ship." (Italian). "You cannot take 
a cow from a man who has none." (Danish). 
"Like talcing the bark off a stone." (Telugu). 
"A thousand men cannot undress a naked man." 
(Modem Greek). "Not even a thousand men in 
armour can strip a naked man." (Turkish). 
"You cannot strip two skins from one cow." 

Impossibilities and Absurdities 171 

"Eggs I'll not shave; but^et, brave man, if I 
Was destined forth to golden sovereignty, 
A prince I'd be, that I might thee prefer 
To be my counsel both and chancellor." 

Robert Herrickm 

She will sit in one's eye cross-legged, and tether five 
elephants to the pole of a dancer. (Tamil). 

Should the mustache of one's aunt grow we may can her 
imcle. (Tamil). 

Teeth do not wear mourning. (Trinidad Creole). 

Smiles and laughter may cover a breaking heart. 

The bUnd man sought for a needle in the straw-loft, and the 
man with a lame hand made a basket to piat it in« 

(Modem Greek). 

The distinction of big and little does not apply to snakes. 


The egg made faces at the chicken. (Telugu). 

Applied to people who insolently mock their 

"It is not good or safe to point the mockery behind 
the grand seignior's back." (Turkish). "A 
disciple greater than his Guru." (Telugu). 

The dwarf seizing the moon with his hands. (Bengalese). 

Applied to those who revile their superiors from a 
feeling of jealousy or seek to obtain high official 
positions for whidi they are unqualified. 

The healthy seeking a doctor. (Welsh). 

Used when people speak or act inconsistently. 

The hen he has caught has four legs. (Telugu). 

Used in referring to a tale narrated by one who has 
been guilty of gross exaggeration. 

173 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The lamb tiwrJifag tiie sl^fsep to graze. (Wdsh). 

The bzy pefBon has no legs. (Arabian). 

' None so blind as those who won't see." (English) . 
'None so deaf as those who won't hear." (French, 
Italian, Spanish, Danish). 

The pesfle has fallen in one viQagey and headaiches are 
felt in another. (Bengalese). 

The injury inflicted is f dt by another. 

"Other folks' burdens kill the ass." (English). 
" Other folks' cares kill the ass." (Spanish). 

There is a difference between Peter and Peter. (Spanish). 

The river flowing upwards. (Hindustani) . 

Used in referring to something impossible. 

The story of one who wandered through the jungle in 
search of a lamb that he had on his shoulder. (Tamil) . 

See Wit and Humour in Proverbs: "One man's 
beard is burning, another goes to light his cigar- 
ette by it." 

Proverbs of absent-mindedness are numerous: 

"By mistake he poured butter-milk into butter- 
milk." (Tdugu). ^ "Searching the village for 
the copper pot which is under his arm." "The 
shoemaker is sitting on his awl and beats his boy 
for taking it." "The child is on her hip and she 
searches^ the Maharwada for it." (Marathi). 
"The milk is on the fire, and the thoughts dse- 
where." " Crying a child through the town, and 
it is in the nurse's lap." (Bengalese). "Ye're 
like the man that sought his horse, and him on its 
back." (Scotch). "You look for the horse you 
ride on." (Russian). " He looks for his ass and 
sits upon his back." (French). "The butcher 
looked for his knife while he had it in his mouth." 
"The butcher looked for the candle, and 'twas 
in 's hat." (English). 

The world going upside down^ the horse mounted on the 
horseman. (Gaelic). 

Impossibilities and Absurdities 173 

Thou readest the Psalms to the inhabitants of the tombs* 


"The Psalms are seldom read by Moslems because 
they assert that the Christians have interpolated 
them; vet they acknowledge that David was 
inspired by Heaven when he composed and sang 
them. Nobody thinks, however, of reading or 
reciting to the dead." — /. L, Buckhardi, 

You are unlike other men: you do what no one else 
would think of doing. 

To ask the blind if it is daybreak. (Welsh). 

To bind the water with thread. (Persian). 

This sajring is used by the Persians for two purposes : 
(i) He is engaged in an impossible or useless occu- 
pation; and 
(2) He is accomplishing his purposes by stratagem. 

To cool the eyes by applying butter to the soles of the feet 


The man high in authority and influence benefits 
himself by bestowing favours on those who occupy 
a lower station in life. 

To dip up the great ocean with a small shell. (Japanese). 

To give a shellful of medicine to a sick mountain. (Mara- 

The means would be inadequate and the procedure 
absurd, but no more absurd than attempting to 
remedy a great evil by the use of insignificant 

To give the loaf and ask for the slice. (Welsh). 

To grease a lump of lard. (Welsh). 

To keep a dog and bark yourself. (English, Scotch, Welsh) . 
To keep servants in the house and do your own work. 

To make a peg firm by shaking it. (Marathi). 

To render an opinion regarding a matter about 
which one has made few inquiries and is only 
partially informed. 

174 Curiosities in Proverbs 

To make a young tree grow in the divan passage. (Osmanli). 

This would be impossible as the divan passage is 
usually paved with stone and is in constant use. 

To pound water in a mortar. (Persian). 

To show the path to one who knows it. (Wel^). 

To tie a priest's hair In a knot. (Japanese). 

Which would be impossible owing to the fact that 
the priests shave their heads. 

Using a mirror to look at one's bracelets. (Bengalese). 

Exerting oneself to discover that which is plainly 

'* Why, man, have you got up into the tamarind tree? '* 
He replied, '* To pluck grass for my kitten." (Tamil) . 

"You fellow, Why did you go up the cocoanut tree? 
When thus addressed, he replied, **I went to get 
grass for the calf." (Tamil). 

Equivalent to the common phrase, "It's none of 
your business." 

You dance in a net and think nobody sees you. (EngHsh). 

See Fortune and Luck in Proverbs. 

After a dream of a wedding comes a corpse. (English). 

It was a common superstition of olden times that 
when anyone, particularly lovers, dreamed about 
marriage, death and disaster were sure to follow. 

To dream about a wedding always "denotes the 
death of some near friend or relation, with loss of 
property and severe disappointment." 

Old English Chapbook. 

"To dream you are married is ominous of death and 
very tmfavourable to the dreamer; it denotes 
poverty, a prison, and misfortune." 

Old English Chapbook. 

A gift on the thtsmb is sore to come; a gift on tiie finger is 
sore to linger. (English). 

This proverb does not refer, as is often supposed, to 
presents that may be received or withheld, but to 
some impending good or evil. "Gift" was a 
colloquial word that was applied in mediaeval 
times to the white spots that sometimes appear 
on the finger nails. 

"Specks on the fingers, fortune lingers; 
Specks on the thumbs, fortune surely comes." 

It was the custom of people in olden times to count 
the white spots that they saw on their nails and 
touch them one after another, beginning with 
those on the thumb and proceeding to those on 
each of the fingers. As this was done the counter 
would say, "Gift — Friend — ^Foe — Sweetheart to 
come — ^Jouyney to go." Sometimes "Letter" was 
substituted for "Sweetheart to come." 


176 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A hair of the dog that bit you. (English). 

" To take a hair of the same dog." (English). 
To take more of the liquor that intoxicated you." 

"Early we rose, in haste to get away; 
And to the hostler this morning, by day, 
This fellow called: *What ho! fellow, thou knave! 
I prajr thee let me and my fellow have 
A hair of the dog that bit us last night — 
And bitten were we both to the brain aright. 
We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass. 
And so did each one each other, that there was.* " 

John Heywood, 

Another and older meaning was that when a person 
had been bitten by a dog it was desirable to secure 
one of the animal's hairs and place it on the 
wound for a cure. 

A king reigns on land, in half-filled-up tanks reigns the 
water sprite. (Assamese). 

The water sprite is an evil spirit that is supposed to 
haunt the swamps and marshes and lead people 

A man had better ne'er be bom as have his nails on a 
Sunday shorn. (English). 

"Cut them on Monday, cut them for health; 
Cut them on Tuesday, cut them for wealth; 
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for news; 
Cut them on Thursday, a new pair of shoes; 
Cut them on Friday, cut them for sorrow; 
Cut them on Saturday, see your sweetheart to- 
morrow." — Old English Rhyme, 

A serpent unless it devours a serpent grows not to a 
dragon. (Latin and Greek). 

A Sunday child never dies of plague. (French). 

"A child of Sunday and Christmas Day 
Is good and fair, and wise and gay." 

Bush natural ; more hair than wit. (English) . 

Meaning that when a person has a large quantity 
of hair on his head he is deficient in intellect. 

Shakespeare refers to this superstition in Two 
Genuemen of Verona (Act III, Scene i) when 

Superstition in Proverbs 177 

he makes Launce say: "More hair than wit? It 
may be; I'll prove it. The cover of the salt, and 
therefore it is more than the salt; the hair that 
covers the wit is more than the wit, for the greater 
hides the less, what next ? " 

Cross a stile and a gate hard by, you'll be a widow before 
you die. (English). 

Don't wash the inside of a baby's hand; you will wash his 
luck away. (American Negro). 

The above saying is one of many current in Tide- 
water Virginia, given by a writer in the Southern 
Workman (Hampton Institute) for November, 
1899. Others are as foUows: "Don't leave the 
griddle on the fire after the bread is done; it will 
make bread scarce." "Don't sweep dirt out of 
the door after night; you will sweep yourself out 
of a home." "Don't step over anybody's leg; it 
will turn to a stick of wood." " Don't comb your 
hair at night, it will make you forgetful. " " Don ' t 
be the first to drive a hearse, or you will be the 
next to die." "Don't shake the tablecloth out 
of doors after sunset; you will nevier marry." 
"Don't sweep a person's feet, it will make him 
lazy; so will hitting them with a straw." "Don't 
whip the child who bums another; if you do, the 
burnt child will die." "Don't measure yourself; 
it will make you die." "Don't lend or borrow 
salt or pepper; it will break friendship. If you 
must borrow it, don't pay it back.* "Don't 
kill a wren; it will cause your limbs to get broken." 
"Don't pass anything over a person's back; it 
will give him pains." " Don't pour out tea before 
putting sugar in the cup, or some one will be 
drowned. Some say it will drown the miller," 
** Don't kill cats, dogs, or frogs; you will die in 
rags." " Don't move cats; if you do, you will die 
a beggar." "Don't meet a corpse, or you will 
get very sick before the year is out." "Don't 
point at or speak of a shooting star." "Don't 
count the teeth of a comb; they will all break 
out." "Don't lock your hands over your 


178 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Dry bargains bode ill. (Scotch). 

An allusion to an old Scotch custom of ratifying a 
bargain with drink. 

Eat cress to learn more wit. (Greek). 

Friday is a cross day for marriage. (English). 

See Fortune and Luck in Proverbs: "He that 
laughs on Friday will weep on Sunday." Prob- 
ably taken from the old English rhyme: 
"Monday for wealth, 
Tuesday for health, 
Wednesday the best day of all; 
Thursday for losses, 
IJriday for crosses, 
And Saturday, no luck at all." 

Happy isthe'bride the sun shines on, and the corpse the 
rain rains on. (English) . 

" While others repeat : 
Your praise and bless you, sprinkling you with 

While that others so divine, 

Bless'd is the bride on which the sun doth shine." 

Robert Herrick. 

He was wrapp'd in his mither's sark tail. (Scotch). 

" He was lapped in his mother's smock." (English). 

There is an old Scotch superstitious custom of 
receiving every male child at birth in its mother's 
shift, believing that by so doing it will be made 
acceptable to women in after life, so that when a 
man is unpopular among women people say, 
"He was kept in a broad claith; he was some hap 
to his meat, but none to his wives." 

If in handling a loaf you break it in two parts, it will rain 
all the week. (English). 

It is an old superstition that if an unmarried woman 
is placed between a man and his wife at a social 
gathering, or permits a loaf to be broken by 
accident while it is in her hands, she will not be 
married for one year. 

Superstition in Proverbs 179 

If skin-spots come, our wants will be supplied. (Marathi). 

If the skin becomes discoloured or if moles or other 
blemishes appear on the cheeks it is a good sign. 

If the cow snore, the cow-house will fill; if the bullock 
snore, the master will die. (Marathi). 

Mr. A. Manwaring suggests that the last part of 
this proverb may imply that the bullock is weak 
and therefore not able to work and support its 

If thou seest a one-eyed person pass by, turn up a stone. 

"The people of Cairo turn up a stone or break a 
water-jar behind the back of any person whom 
they dislike, just on his leaving them, hoping 
thereby to prevent his return; this is a kind of 
incantation. The term one-eyed here expresses 
a person disagreeable on any account. The 
Arabs regard a one-eyed man as a bad omen, 
and nobody wishes to meet him." 

/. L, BurckhardL 

In the home the wife is supreme, in the ditch reigns the 
water sprite. (Assamese). 

The water sprite is supposed to preside over tanks, 
drains, ditches, etc., and sometimes draws down 
helpless victims and destroys them. 

"By digging a drain you have brought the evil 
sprite closer." By digging a drain near your 
house you enable the evil sprite to come closer 
to you. (Assamese). 

"The king reigns on land, in half filled up tanks 
reigns the water sprite." (Assamese). 

Keep a wall-eyed horse and be ruined. (Urdu). 

Kiss the black cat, an' 'twill make ye fat; kiss the white 
one, 'twill make ye lean. (English). 

Malisons, Malisons, mair than ten, wha harries the queen 
of heaven's wren. (Scotch). 

Malisons — i.e., curses or maledictions. 

"The wren, being able to fly higher than any other 
Wrd, poured the coveted fire from heaven and 


1 80 Curiosities in Proverbs 

started on her earthward journey, but in her 
descent her wings began to bum, compelling 
her to intrust her precious burden to the robin, 
whose feathers also burst into flames as his 
breast still shows. The lark, coming to the rescue, 
brought the prize in safety to mankind on earth. 
In some parts of Brittany it is said that the wren 
brought the fire from the lower regions and 
that her feathers were scorched as she passed 
through the keyhole. On this account the wren, 
together with the robin, the lark, and the swallow 
as fire bringers, are regarded as sacred and the 
robbing of their nests as an act of horror. In 
some of the French provinces such crimes are 
believed to be punished by the destruction of 
the offender's house by lightning. Another 
superstition is that the fingers of the offending 
hand will shrivel away and drop off." — Mar gar A 
Coulson Walker in Bird Legend and Life. 

The robin and the wren are God Almighty's cock 

and hen. 
The martin and the swallow are God Almighty's 

bow and arrow." (English). 

The robin and the wren are God's cock and hen, 
The spink and the sparrow are the de'il's bow and 
arrow." (English). 

In Ireland the wren is regarded as under the special 
protection of the Virgin Mary, and the sa3dng, 
"The little wren, our Lady's hen, " is common. 

Notwithstanding the respect that is generally paid 
to the wren, the bird has had a bad reputation. 
In Norse mythology she is a malignant fairy, and 
among the superstitions of the Isle of Man there 
is one that she lures men into the sea by her songs 
and charms, particularly on Christmas Day, and 
then causes them to be drowned. 

There is an old tale that when St. Stephen was 
awaiting his execution the men who were ap- 
pointed to guard him fell asleep, whereupon the 
Saint determined to take advantage of the fact 
and escape, but on starting to go a wren flew in 
the face of one of the guards and awoke him. It 
is because of this tale that on St. Stephen's Day 
(December 26th) the young men on the Isle of 
Man go about carrying little biers decorated with 


Superstition in Proverbs i8i 

flowers, evergreens, and ribbons, on which lies a 
dead wren. When carrying this bier they make a 
pretence that it is heavy and act as though it 
required all their strength to hold it up. With 
this burden they go about singing. 

Many in Lent and you'll live to repent (English). 

The English church has always discouraged 
marriage during Lent, and ill luck has alwavs 
been thought to follow marriages that take 
place during the month of May. 

See Fortune and Luck in Proverbs: "May chets, 
bad luck begets." 

It is a common belief in Russia that marriage 
engagements made at Eastertide brought wealth; 
at Ascensiontide, health; at Whitsuntide, do- 
mestic peace; and at Trinity, a large family. 

"When Advent comes do thou refraine. 
Till Hillary sett ye free againe 
Next Septuagesima saith thee nay. 
But when Lowe Sunday comes thou may, 
Yet at Rogation thou must tarry 
Till Trinitie shall bid thee marry." 

Old English Register Rhyme, 

Misfortunes come on horseback and go away on foot* 


"Misfortunes come on wings and depart on foot." 
"Misfortunes seldome come alone." (English). 
"Misfortunes come by forties." (Welsh). "Ill 
comes upon waur's back" — a great misfortune 
is sure to follow another that is greater. (Scotch). 
"After losing, one loses roundly." (French). 
"A misfortune and a friar are seldom alone." 
" One misfortune is the eve of another." (Italian). 

"Whither goest thou. Misfortune?" "To where 
there are more. " " Whither goest thou, So rrow ? ' ' 
"Whither I am wont." "Welcome, Misfortune, 
if thou comest alone." (Spanish Saying). 

Remove the gate of thy stable to another side. (Arabian). 

This advice is said to be given when a house is 
reputed to be in danger from the evil eye. The 
owner, at such times, usually walls up his gate 

1 82 Curiosities in Proverbs 

and opens a new one on another side, thus divert- 
ing the baneful influences of an enemy who may 
have an evil eye. 

Sowing fennel is sowing sorrow. (English). 

This proverb is thought by some to be purdy 
American, but it was brought to New England 
by the early English settlers. 

The aze which cuts the tree is not afraid; but ilia woodman 
makes a sacrifice to his head. (Yoruba — West 


The axe is not afraid of the evil spirits that inhabit 
the tree, but the woodman is s^raid lest the evil 
spirits should cause the axe to injure him, so he 
offers a sacrifice to the good genius that resides 
in his head before striking a blow at the trunk. 

The dog's death approaches when he eats the bread of the 
shepherd. (Persian). 

It is also said, "The dog's death approaches when 
he sleeps in a mosque." 

The first snail going with you, the first Iamb meeting you, 
bodes a gude year. (Scotch). 

The night is no man's friend. (German) . 

Though the night furnishes rest and refreshment for 
the wearied body and gives strength for the duties 
of the day, yet in Northern mythology it has 
always been regarded as hostile to men. Ety- 
mologically "night" is the "dead" time, when 
men in sleep seem to part from life for a season 
and become oblivious to all its interests. 

"Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne, 
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth 
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumb*ring world 
Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound! 
Nor eye, nor list'ning ear, an object finds, 
Creation sleeps. *Tis as the general pulse 
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause; 
An awful pause! prophetic of her end." 

Edward Young, 

Superstition in Proverbs 183 

There goes a witchl There goes a vdtchi If you are no 
witch you will not turn around. (Oji — West African). 

"If the cap fit, wear it." (English). "He that 
excuses himself accuses himself." (English, 
French, Italian). "Who excuses accuses." 
(Dutch). "Who covers thee, discovers thee." 
(Spanish). "An excuse that is uncalled for 
becomes an obvious accusation." (Latin Law). 
" He does it who takes it to himself. ' ' (Latin) . 

The thirteenth man brings death. (Dutch). 

The belief that evil is in some way connected with 
the number thirteen is common in many places. 
In Scotland thirteen is called the " De'il's Dozen " ; 
in Florence and Rome it is omitted in numbering 
the houses; in Italy it is not used on theatre 
boxes nor in making up lottery lists; in India the 
thirteenth year is ominous; in Persia the people 
refrain from pronouncing the number, and in 
Tiu^key it is seldom referred to in conversation. 

Where this foolish dread of the number thirteen 
originated is unknown. Many people think that 
it came from the fact that thirteen men sat at 
the table when the Lord's Supper was first 
celebrated in Jerusalem and that Judas was the 
last to take his seat among the disciples, but 
there is no evidence that he was the last; further- 
more the superstition existed long before the 
Christian era. Loki, the Principal of Evil in 
Norse mythology, was reckoned the thirteenth of 
the iEsir or Demigods. The thirteen Valkyrs or 
Vergins waited at a banquet in Valhalla when 
Balder was slain by a contrivance of Loki. 

The place where thirteen is most dreaded is at the 
table, as is indicated by the Dutch proverb above 
quoted. As there is constant danger that a 
dinner party may include thirteen people, super- 
stition shows its foolishness by a provision by 
which evil consequences may be averted, for it is 
held that when the time comes to leave the table 
all may agree to rise together and thus prevent 
any calamity. 

In the chapel of the Tridinium Pauperum, adjoining 
the Church of St. Gregory at Rome, is a marble 
table on which is an inscription giving the follow- 

184 Curiosities in Proverbs 

ing story : Pope Gregory the Great, it declares, 
was in the habit of entertaining twelve poor men 
every morning at breakfast. One day Jesus 
appeared as one in need and sat with the other 
men at Gregory's feast. As he made the thir- 
teenth beggar at the nieal the number could no 
longer be followed by evil consequence and from 
that time it became a sign of good luck. 

They that marry in green, fheir sorrow is soon seen. 


See note on the proverb: "Yellow forsaken and 
green forsworn, but blue and red ought to be 

According to an old Scottish custom, everything that 
was ^reen was regarded as out of place at a 
weddmg. Even green vegetables were forbidden, 
for it was believed evil was sure to result if the 
colour was anywhere to be seen. Beside the 
above proverb the Scotch said, "Blue is love 
true, green is love deen." 

The superstitious dislike for the colour, particularly 
in a bride's dress, was not confined to the Scotch. 
The following old English rhymes indicate a like 

"Green is forsaken, and yellow is forsworn. 
But blue is the prettiest colour that's worn." 

"Green's forsaken, yellow forsworn, 
Blue's the colour that shall (or must) be worn." 

"Those dressed in blue, have lovers true, 
In green and white, forsaken quite." 

"Blue is true, yellow's jealous. 
Green's forsaken, red's brazen. 
White is love, and black is death." 

" If you love me, love me true. 
Send me ribbon, and let it be blue; 
If you hate me, let it be seen, 
Send me a ribbon, a ribbon of green." 

"Yellow, yellow, turned up with green. 
The ugliest colour that ever was seen." 

" Married in white, you have chosen all right; 
Married in gray, you will go far away; 
Married in black, you will wish yourself back; 
Married in red, you'd better be dead; 

Superstition in Proverbs 185 

Married in green, ashamed to be seen; 
Married in blue, you'll always be true; 
Married in pearl, you will live in a whirl; 
Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow; 
Married in brown, you'll live out of town; 
Married in pink, your spirits will sink." 

There is a devil in every berry of the grape. (English). 

This proverb is said to have originated in Turkey 
and shows how general is the belief that intoxica- 
tion is produced by Satan. 

They that meet across the nose, will never wear their 
wedding clothes. (English). 

"If your eyebrows meet across your nose, youTl 
never live to wear your wedding clothes. (Eng- 

Though he should gain a kingdom, he would not move on a 
Tbursday-eve I (Bengalese) . 

A taunting reference to anyone who refuses to 
begin a pumey on a certain day because of a 
superstitious dread of evil consequences. 

To change the name and not the letter, is a change for the 
worse and not the better. (English). 

In the Middle Ages many young women discouraged 
the friendship of men, the initial letter of whose 
names was the same as their own, superstitiously 
fearing lest friendship might lead to marriage 
which would be sure to bring unhappiness. 

When the cock crows before the door, somebody is coming. 

(Mauritius Creole). 

When the right ^e throbs, it's mother or sister coming: 
when the left eye throbs, it's brother or husband 
coming. (Italian). 

Eye superstitions were general in the Middle Ages 
when a belief in the "evil eye'* kept people in 
constant fear lest they should become subject 
to its influence. It was common, for example, for 
Spanish mothers to put a cord of braided hair 
taken from a black mare's tail about their 
children's necks and attach thereto a small horn 

1 86 Curiosities in Pnnrerbs 

tipped with silver, as a protection against the 
baneful effect of a |;lance from someone who 
might possess an "evil eye." 

Among the many proverbs about the ^e that have 
come down to us from the past may be found the 
following: "My right ^e is twitching," which 
indicated the approach of some desired or expected 
person. (Latin). "Left before right, you'll crv 
before night." "Left eye cry, right ^e joy. 
"Left or right, brings joy at night." (English). 
"The evil eye can see no good." "Woe to an 
evil eye." (Danish). "The eyes of the hare are 
one thing and the eyes of the owl another." 
(Modem Greek). 

YeUow forsaken and green forsworn^ but blue and red 
ought to be worn. (Scotch). 

See notes on proverb: "They that marry in green, 
their sorrow is soon seen." 

In mediaeval days yellow and green were r^arded 
with aversion. Yellow was particularly disliked, 
because it was thought to indicate jealousy, in- 
constancy, and adultery. It was, however, not 
only permitted but esteemed in blazonry, where 
it stood for love, constancy, and wisdom; and in 
Christian symbols, where it was regarded, when of 
a pure or clear tint, as symbolizing the possession 
of brightness, goodness, faith, and fruitfulness. 
When, however, it was of a dull tone, it stood 
for faithlessness, deceit, and jealousy. 

In Prance, ydlow was daubed on the house doors of 
traitors and bankrupts, who were called "Yellow 
Boys." In Spain, executioners were clothed in 
either red to symbolize the shedding of blood or 
in yellow to show that they were the representa- 
tives of the law against treason. In some coun- 
tries Jews were required to dress in yellow to 
indicate that they were held responsible for the 
betrayal of Jesus Christ. Slaves were also 
frequently obliged to be clothed in the same 
colour to show that they were under bondage. 

There is a tradition that Judas had red hair, and 
artists were in the habit of representing him in 
their paintings as clothed in old dingy yellow 

Superstition in Proverbs 187 

If red hair was disliked, yellow hair was hdd in 
aversion. He on whom nature had bestowed 
hair of that colour was regarded as ill favoured 
and almost deformed. 

See Superstition in Proverbs 


A bold man has luck in his train. (Danish). 

"Good courage breaks ill luck." (English). 
"Fortune favours the brave." (Latin, Spanish, 
English). "To the bold man fortime gives her 
hand." (English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, 
French). "Cowards have no luck." (German). 
" Fortune helps the daring but repulses the timid." 
"Fortune smiles upon the brave and frowns upon 
the coward." (Latin). "Fortune is not far 
from the brave man's head." (Turkish). 

The Germans say; "Fortune helps the bold, but 
not always." 

A stout man crushes 111 luck. (Spanish). 

Everyone is the author of his own good fortune. (French) . 

Everyone is the maker of his own fate. (English) . 

"'Everyone is the maker of his own fortime*; and 
an imeasy, necessitous, busy man seems to me 
more miserable than he that is simply poor." — 
Michael de Montaigne. 

Every wind Is against a leaky ship. (Danish). 

Fortune comes to her who seeks her. (Italian). 

" Luck comes to those that look after it." (Spanish). 

Fortune does not stand waiting at anyone's door. (Dutch). 


Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 189 

Fortune helps them that help themselves. (English). 

Fortune is the companion of virtue. (Latin). 

Some men are so sure that they are the creatures 
of luck that the combined force of religion, 
philosophy, education, and experience is unable 
to change their opinion. "It never occurs to 
fools," said Goethe, " that merit and good fortune 
are closely united." 

The word "Luck" is said to be derived from an old 
Anglo-Saxon verb meaning "to catch" and 
therefore signifies something caught. Such a 
derivation seems reasonable m view of the fact 
that prosperity and adversity are thought by 
many to be dependent on fleeting opportunities 
that must be seized in passing; whereas they are 
the result of an overshadowing providence and 
the working out of fixed laws. 

Good fortune ever fights on the side of prudence. (Greek). 

Good luck comes by cuffing. (English). 

" Good luck comes by elbowing. ' ' (Spanish) . 

Industry is the mother of good fortune. (Spanish). 

"The goddess of fortune dwells in the feet of the 
industrious; the goddess of misfortune dwells in 
the feet of the sluggard. ' ' (Tamil) . 

Luck follows the hopeful, ill luck the fearful. (German). 

Luck stops at the door and inquires whether prudence is 
withm. (Danish). 

Luck will carry a man across the brook if he is not too lazy 
to leap. (Danish). 

Pat your finger in the fire and say it was your fortune. 


The devil*s children have the devil's luck. (English) . 

There is no one luckier than he who thinks himself so. 


190 Curiosities in Proverbs 


A drop of fortune is worth a cask of wisdom. (Latin). 

"A handful of luck is better than a sackful of 
wisdom." " Half an ounce of luck is better than 
a pound of sense." (German). "A gniin of 
good luck is better than an ass-load of skill." 
(Persian). "An ounce of ludc is better than a 
pound of wisdom." (English). "Who has luck 
needs no understanding. (German). 

Adveraity makes a man, luck makes monsters. (French). 

Tribulation brings understanding." (Latin). 
" Wind in the face makes a man wise." (French). 
" Adversity makes a man wise, not rich." " Wis- 
dom is a good purchase, though we pay dear for 
it." (English). "Misfortime is a good teacher." 


A good bone never falls to a good dog. (French). 

"The worst pig gets the best acorn." (Spanish, 
Italian, Portuguese). "The worst pig often gets 
the best pear." (English). "The worst service, 
the better luck." (Dutch). 

"Other rules may vary, but this is the only one you 
will find without exception — that, in this world, 
the salary or reward is always in the inverse ratio 
of the duties performed." — Sydney Smith. 

A jackal gives luck to those he meets, but let him beware 
of a dog. (Hindustani). 

To meet a jackal is regarded by the people as an 
omen of good luck. 

A lucky man needs little counsel. (Scotch, English). 

Sometimes the proverb is rendered, "Lucky men 
need no counsel." 

A man does not seek his luck, his luck seeks its man* 


A meethig in the sunlight is lucky and a burying hi tiio 
rain. (Irish). 

An unlucky fish tak's bad bait (Scotch). 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 191 

An unlucky man's cart is eithly coup'd. (Scotch). 

Coup'd — overturned. 

''An unhappy man's cart is eith to tumble." 

Bad luck, bad credit (German). 

Bad luck often brings good luck. (German) . 

"Give a man but luck and he'll run through all the 
dangerous difficulties, both of sea and land, with 
success, and seldom or never fail of being happy, 
even beyond his own hopes. *Tis wonderful how 
some persons thrive an-end in the world, and seem 
to prosper upon their very losses." — Oswald Dykes, 

Better be the lucky man than the lucky man's son. 


"Better be lucky bom than a rich man's son." 

Bom of a white woman* (Latin). 

Used in referring to one who was thought to be 

By land or water the wind is ever in my face. (English). 

By the caf s good luck the string is broken. (Hindustani). 

It is lucky for the cat when the string breaks by 
which food is hung to the rafters. 

This proverb is applied to people who are favored 
by circumstances over which they have no control, 
and are thus enabled to secure benefits that the^ 
have not earned and positions beyond their 
ability to fill. 

Dhrt bodes luck. (Scotch) . 

The cleanly are comfortable, the dirty are lucky. 

Even (lie street dog has his lucky days. (Japanese) . 

Fair eyes, unlucky hands. (Modem Greek) . 

This saying is applied to people who prefer "genteel 
poverty " to tluift and coxnfort. 


192 Curiosities in Proverbs 

■ * • 

Few have luck^ all have death* (Danish). 

" Luck is for the few, death for the maxxy/* (Ger- 

For him who is lucky even the cock lays egg^, (Modem 
Greek, Russian). 

"The lucky man's bitch litters pigs." (Spanish). 

"From twelve eggs he gets thirteen chickens." 
His hens lay eggs with two yolks." (German). 
'He extracts milk even from a barren goat." 
He planted pebbles and took potatoes." 


Fortune and misfortune are neighbours* (German). 

" Fortune and misfortune are two buckets in a well." 
(German) . * * Fortune and misfortune dwell in the 
same courtyard." (Russian). 

Fortune can take from us only what she has given us. 


Fortune has wings. (German). 

"Then in blynde fortune put not thy truste. 
For her brightness sone receyveth ruste; 
Fortune is lykill, fortune is blynde, 
Her rewardes be fykiU and unkynde." 

Old Rhyme, 1784. 

Fortune is a woman, if you neglect her today expect not to 
. regain her tomorrow. (French). 

Fortune is round, it makes one a king another a beggar. 


"Fortune makes kings out of beggars and beggars 
out of kings." "Fortune makes kings and 
fools." (German). 

Fortune' knocks once at least at every man's door. (Eng- 

"When fortune knocks open the door." (German, 

"The goddess (Fortuna) is said to have once ap- 
peared in a vision to the Emperor Galba, who 
reigned a.d. 68-69, and to have informed him 
that she was standing weary before his door, and 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 193 

that, if she were not quickly admitted, everyone 
dear to him would become her prey. On awaken- 
ing he found outside the entrance-haU of his 
palace a bronze figure of fortune which he con- 
cealed beneath his garments and carried to his 
summer residence at Tusculum. There he set 
apart a sanctuary for the image and offered 

grayer to it each month, keeping, moreover, in its 
onour an all-night vigil every year." — Robert 
Means Lawrence in Magic of the Horse Shoe, 

Fortune rarely brings good or evil singly. (English). 

Fortune sometimes favours those she afterwards destroys. 


"*The world's a lottery,' cries the losing gamester; 
and he that wins one while, perhaps, may have 
nothing to brag of at the foot of the account. 
The tables may turn again, and then he must 
come off a loser, notwithstanding all his former 
lucky hits. " — Oswald Dykes, 

Fortune wearies with canTing one and the same man 
always. (English). 

Give a man luck and throw him into the sea. (English). 

" Pitch him into the Nile and he will come up with a 
fish in his mouth. ' ' (Arabian) . 

God send you luck, my son, and little wit will serve your 
turn. (English). 

"A little wit ser's a lucky man." (Scotch). 


Good luck is better than early rising. (Irish). 

"If fortune favours you, go and sleep at ease. 
(Persian). "Have fortime and go to sleep. 

Good luck is not sold in the market. (Persian). 

Hap and mishap govern the world. (English). 

" 'Tis a common saw, that time and chance happen 
to all men, but when we see a person prodigiously 
fortunate and prosperous, we are apt to make a 
banter of the blessing, and jest upon Providence, 


194 Curiosities in Proverbs 

with the 'romance of Fortunatus' cap/ 'Luck 
in a Bag,' and 'What says Pluck?* Thus is 
heaven foolishly insulted; and the success either 
of living happily , of marrying well, or of making 
one's fortune fairly any other wav in the world, 
chances to be often ignorantly lampooned and 
falsely attributed to a mistaken Deity." 

Oswald Dykes, 

He dances well to'whom fortune pipes. (English). 

He falls on his back and breaks his nose. (French, 
Italian, EngUsh). 

He is a horse with four white feet. (French). 

He is lucky who forgets what cannot be mended. (Ger- 

He that has luck brings home the bride. (German). 

"He that has luck leads the bride to church." 

He that laughs on Friday will weep on Sunday. (English). 

See Superstition in Proverbs: "Friday is cross day 
for marriage." 

Friday has generally been considered unlucky, yet 
it was the birthday of Washington, Bismarck, 
Gladstone, Disraeli, General Scott, and Spur^geon. 
While many untoward events have taken place 
on Friday, the records of history show that 
numerous achievements in art, science, discovery, 
and beneficence took place on the day. In 
common with every other day of the week, it is 
marked with good and evil both in the affairs of 
men and nations. 

"He that sings on Friday will weep on Sunday." 
"As the Friday, so the Sunday; as the Sunday, so 
the week." "On Thursday you'll see what 
Fridav will be." "Fridays in the week are never 
alike. "Friday's hair and Sunday's horn goes 
to the D'ule on Monday mom." " Friday in the 
week is seldom a leek." "Friday's night dream 
on Saturday told is sur^ to come true be it never 
so old." Friday's moon, come when it will. 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 195 

comes too soon." "If you hear anything new 
on a Friday, it gives you another wrinkle on your 
face and adds another year to your age/' (Eng- 

** Whoever is bom on Friday must eroerience 
trouble." (Tyrolese). "Fine on Fricfay, fine 
on Sunday; wet on Friday, wet on Sunday, 

Sometimes in Old England a person whose visage 
was gloomy or who looked disheartened was said 
to be "Friday-faced." 

The widespread opinion that Friday brought ill 
luck is said to have been due to the fact that 
Jesus was crucified on that day. As the event 
seemed to men of old a good reason for regarding 
the day as ominous of evil, it was eas^ to imagine 
other reasons to confirm their opimon, hence it 
was held that Friday was the da^r on which Adam 
ate the forbidden fruit and on which he was driven 
out of Paradise, the day on which Cain killed 
his brother, the deluge began, the tongues of the 
tower builders were confused, the plagues of 
Egypt began, Stephen was stoned, Herod the 
Great slew the children of Bethlehem, John the 
Baptist was slain, Peter was crucified, and Paul 
was beheaded. 

There is no evidence that the prejudice against 
Friday is due to the fact that Jesus was crucified 
on that day. It was regarded as unlucky long 
before the Christian era and looked upon as an 
unauspicious time to begin a journey, make a 
visit, undertake an enterprise, or perform a task. 

There is an aversion to the day among the Brahmins 
of India, the peasants of Russia, the people of 
France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and other lands; 
indeed the aversion is well-nigh universal. 

On the other hand, the day has not been without its 
defenders. It was selected by Mahomet for 
public prayer and is believed by Mohammedans 
as the most auspicious dav of the week. In 
medieeval times it was considered by the Germans 
and Hebrews as the most suitable day for 
weddings. E^ptians hold Friday in honour. 
In Servia a child is considered particularly for- 
tunate who is bom on the day, for the reason that 

196 Curiosities in Proverbs 

the fact will protect him in after life from the 
assaults of hogs and sorcerers; and among the 
North Germans it is held to be the best day on 
which to begin gathering the harvest. 

He was bom upon St. Galtpert's night, three days before 
luck. (Dutch). 

He who has bad luck hazards boldly. (Spanish). 

He who is lucky passes for a wise man. (Italian). 

He would break his neck upon a straw. (Italian). 

** He would drown in a spoonful of water." (Italian) . 

He would sink a ship freighted with crucifixes. (Provengal). 

If an unlucky man becomes a cultivator, either his oxen 
die or there is a want of rain. (Hindustani). 

"If I went to sea I should find it dry." (Italian). 
"Wherever the human wretch goes there will be 
famine." (Hindustani). "When bad fortune 
becomes one's companion, he will be bitten by a 
dog although mounted on a camel." "If an 
unlucky person goes to the river he makes it 
smoke — sets it on fire. (Persian). "If I were 
to trade in winding-sheets no one would die." 
(Arabian). " If my father had made me a hatter, 
men would have been bom without heads." 
(German, Irish). 

If e'er you mak' a lucky puddin' Fll eat the prick. (Scotch). 

If ever you become lucky, which you never will, 
I'll get nothing out of it. 

If fortune assist you, your teeth can break an anvU; but 
should it desert you, your teeth will be broken by 
eating flummery. (Persian). 

If he starts on Wednesday he will return at some time or 
otiier. (Marathi). 

He will be sure to return as Wednesday is a lucky 
day on which to begin a journey. 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 197 

If he threw up a groschen on the roof down would come a 
thaler to nim. (Gernian). 

If it is to be luck, the bull may as well calve as the cow. 


If there be two sneezes from one nostril, Shadeva says.the 
omen is good. (Marathi). 

Shadeva was a celebrated astrologer. 

If thou wert to see my luck, thou wouldst trample it under 
foot. (Arabian). 

You are so unlucky that you would not profit by 
my good luck if it were yours. 

HI luck enters by arms full, and departs by inches. (Span- 

HI luck is worse than found money. (English) . 

It avails little to the unfortunate to be brave. (Spanish) . 

It is a bad omen to meet one with a high f or^ead and curly 
hair. (Tamil). 

It is better to be bom lucky than rich. (English). 

"Better be bom lucky than wise." (English, 

It is easier to win good luck than to retain it. (Latin). 

It is \nckj to see a wolf; it is also lucky not to see one. 


It is considered a good omen in Persia to see a wolf 
when beginning a journey; it is also considered 
unfortunate to meet another wolf on the way 
because of the fear and nervousness which would 
be excited. 

It is not every man who is the son of Gaika. (Kaffir). 
Gaika was a very wealthy South African. 

It's no sonsie to meet a bare fit i' the momin'. (Scotch). 
It was my luck, my laddy. (Scotch). 

198 duiosities in Proverbs 

Labonr witfaoat luck he^ not (German). 

Left and right brings good at night (English). 

The reference is to the itching of the eyelids. When 
the lids of the right eye itch, it is a sign of good 
luck; when the lids of the left eye itch, it is a sign 
of bad luck; when the lids of both ^es itch at 
the same time, it is a sign that good will come at 

"Left before right, you'll ciy before night" "Left 
eye cry, right eye joy." (English). 

Luck gives many too much, but no one enough. (German) . 

"Luck has much for many but enough for no one." 

Luck has but a slender anchorage. (Danish). 

Luck is better than a hundred marks. (Danish). 

Luck perhaps visits the fool, but does not sit down widi 
him. (German). 

" Luck meets the fool but he seizes it not." (Ger- 
man). "Fortune often knocks at the door, but 
the fool does not invite her in." (Danish). 

Luck seeks those who flee, and flees those who seek it 


Maggots breed in his salt box. (Basque). 
Mak by luck than gude guiding. (Scotch). 

Marry in May and rue for aye. (English) . 

May has always been considered as an unlucky 
month in which to be married. The reason for 
the prejudice is unknown. Some have thought 
that it was because the month should be set 
apart and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but the 
prejudice existed before Christ was bom and in 
non-Christian lands. 

"No tapers then should bum, nor ever bride, 
Link'd at this season long her bliss en joy 'd; 
Hence our wise masters of proverbs say, 
The girls are all stark naught that wed in May." 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 199 

The above quotation was placed on the gates of 
Holyrood Palace on the morning of May 16, 1567, 
when Mary Queen of Scots married Bothwell. 

" Let maid or widow that would turn to wife, 
Avoid this season dangerous to life; 
If ^ou r^ard old saws, mind this they say, 
'Tis bad to marry in the month of May." 


That the prejudice against May marriages is com- 
mon is attested by many proverbs: "Marry in 
May, repent always." "May is the month to 
many bad wives. " " The girls are stark mad that 
wed m May." " *Tis bad to marry in the month 
of May." (Latin). "Marriage in May is 
unlucky." "Good folks do not marry in May." 
(Russian). "Who marries between sickle and 
scythe will never thrive." (English). "May 
birds are aye cheepin*," — referring to the sup- 
posed physical weakness of children whose 
parents married in May. "O' the marriages in 
May, the bairns die o* a decay." "To marry in 
May is to wed poverty." (Scotch). 

"The proverbs teach and common people say. 
It's iu to marry in the month of May. 

Old Rhyme. 

More luck than wit (Dutch). 

More unlttcky than a dog in church. (Italian). 

Ne'er luck when a priest is on board. (Scotch) . 

Andrew Cheviot declares that the superstition 
among sailors that it is unlucky to have a priest 
on board a vessel is still held in Scotland and 
that it probably originated with the story of 

See a nin and let it lie, you're snre to want before you die. 

There are various renderings to this proverb. 
Amonp^ them are the following: "See a pin and 
let it he, you'll want a pin before you die. " See 
a pin and let it stay, you'll want a pin another 
day." "See a pin and let it lay, bad luck you'll 
have all the day." "See a pin and let it he, all 
the day you'll have to cry." 

200 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The proverb is frequently lengthened by prefixing 
the statement, "See a pin and pick it up, all the 
day you'll have good luck." 

The same thought is expressed in the English 
saying: "He that will not when he may, when he 
w^ he shall have nay." 

We are told that Sir W. Coventry quoted the maxim 
to Charles II., "He that will not stoop for a pin 
will never be worth a pound, " and dedguxxl it to be 
an English proverb. 

She tiiat pricks bread with fork or knife will never be 
happy maid or wife. (English). 

It was thought to be unlucky in the middle ages to 
prick bread with anything but a skewer. 

The bird of prosperity has lodged on his head. (Turkish). 

The de'il's baixns hae aye their daddy's luck. (Scotch). 

The feet of mendicants drive away ill luck. (Persian). 

The highest spoke in fortune's wheel may soon turn 
lowest (English). 

The lucky man has a daughter for his first-born. (Por- 
tuguese, Spanish). 

The lucky man waits for'prosperity ; the unlucky man gives 
a blind leap. (Irish). 

"He that takes too great a leap falls into the ditch." 
" Look before you leap, for snakes among sweet 
flowers creep." (English). " Take care before you 
leap." (Italian). "Before you leap look at the 
grotmd." (Malabar). "First consider, then 
begin." (German). "He that looks not ere he 
loup, will fa* ere he wat." (Scotch). "Look 
before you leap." (In many languages). 

**Look ere thou leap, see ere thou go." 

Thomas Tusser, 

"And though they seem wives for you never so fit, 
Yet let not harmful haste so far outrun your wit, 

Fortune and Luck in Proverbs 201 

But that ye hark to hear all the whole sum 
That may please or displease you in time to come; 
Thus by these lessons, you may leam good cheap 
In wedding and all things to look or ye leap." 

John Heyxvood. 

The melon and marriage must depend upon good luck. 


The morning salutation to the bean-seller, and not to the 
druggist. (Arabian). 

It is generally believed in the East that the luck of 
the day is dependent on the first object seen in the 
morning. It is more fortunate therefore to meet 
the seller of coarse horse-beans (used for food by 
the lower classes), who provides them for healthy 
peasants, than to meet a druggist, who is the 
common physician for those who may be ill. 

The most friendly fortune trips up your heels. (French). 

Therels no fence against fortune. (English). 

"There is no fence against a panic." "There is no 
fence against a flail." (English). 

There is no one luckier than he who thinks himself so. 

The son of the white hen. (Spanish). 

A phrase applied to men who are supposed to be 

The smi once stood still, the wheel of fortune, never. 

See Josh, x : 13. 

The unfortunate are counted fools. (English). 

The waur luck now, the better anither time. (English, 

"If you had won it, certainly you had. 
No, no; when Fortune means to men most good, 
She looks upon them with a threatening eye." 

Shakespeare: King John, 

202 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The wheel of fortune turns quicker than a mill iHieeL 


What* 8 worse than 111 luck ? (English, Scotch). ^ 

What is worse than ill luck? The anticipation of it 
— whence the wisdom of the Irish saying: "Every 
man has bad luck awaitine him some time or 
other, but leave the bad luck to the last; perhaps 
it may never come." 

When fortune opens one door, she opens another. (Ger- 

When fortune reaches out her hand one must seize it. 

When fortune smiles on thee take advantage. (English). 

"When smiling fortune spreads her golden ray, 
All crowd around to flatter and obey, 
But when she thunders from the angry sky, 
Our friends, our flatterers, our lovers fly." 


When luck is wanting diligence is useless. (Spanish). 

"For there's nae luck about the house, 
There's nae luck at a' ; 
There's little pleasure in the house 
When our gude man's awa'." 

W. J. Mfckle. 

When you're in HI luck, a snake can bite you even with its 
talL (Martinique Creole). 

Who changes country, changes luck. (Italian). 

"Who changes his condition changes fortune." 
(Italian). * Change of pasture makes fat calves." 

Who has luck warms himself without fire and grinds with- 
out wind or water. (German). 

Who has no ill luck grows tired of good. (Spanish). 
Whom fortune favours the world favours. (German). 

Tou must have good luck to catch hares with a drum. 



A dottdy sky on Friday and Saturday, says Bhadani, is a 
sure precursor of rain. (Behar). 

"Bhaddar," Mr. John Christian tells us, "was a 
local poet of some fame. He interpreted the 
signs of the seasons in rhymes which have passed 
into proverbs. . . . When very young he was 
stolen from his home in Shahabad by a famous 
magician or astrologer, who carried him away to 
his country and adopted him. Bhaddar became 
so thoroughly proficient in astrology and all 
the m3rstic arts, that his patron gave him his 
daughter in marriage." 

A fine Saturday, a fine Sunday; a fine Sunday, a fine week. 


"Fine on Friday, fine on Sunday; wet on Friday, 
wet on Sunday." (French). "There is never a 
Saturday without some sunshine." (English). 

A foul mom may turn to a fine day. (English). 

See Proverb: "If it rains before seven, 'twill cease 
before eleven." 

" A misty morning may have a fine day. " " Cloudy 
mornings turn to clear evenings." "Rain before 
seven, dear before eleven." "If rain begins at 
early morning light, 'twill end ere day, at noon is 
bright." (Enghsh). "Morning rains are soon 
past." (French). "When it rains in the mom- 
mg, it will be fine at night." "When it rains 
about the break of day, the traveller's sorrows 
pass away." (Chinese). "Three foggy or 
misty mornings indicate rain." (American: 
Western U. S.) 

A flood in the river means fine weather. (Welsh). 
"A river flood, fishes good." (Spanish). 


204 Curiosities in Proverbs 

After a rainy winter follows a fruitful spring. (English). 

"If there is much rain in winter, the spring is 
generally dry." (Greek). ** Rain in September 
is good for the farmer, but poison to the vine 
growers." (German). 

After clouds a clear sun. (Latin) . 

"After clouds clear weather." **A southerly wind 
and a cloudy sky proclaim it a hunting morning." 
"When clouds after jrain disperse during the 
night, the weather will not remain clear." 
"Cloudy mornings turn to dear evenings." 
"When the clouds of the mom to the west fly 
away, you may conclude on a settled fair day. 
"If clouds be bright, 'twill clear tonight; if 
clouds be dark, 'twill rain, do you hark?" "If 
the sky beyond the clouds is blue, be glad, 
there's a picnic for you." (English). 

After rain comes heat. (Welsh). 

A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard. (English, 
Scotch, Danish). 

See Christmas and Easter Proverbs and Contradict- 
ing Proverbs: "A black Christmas makes a fat 

" Many slones, many groans." When there is abun- 
dant fruit on the black thorn, there will follow 
a hard winter with much poverty and sufifering. 
"Many nits, many pits." When the nut trees 
are full of nuts, one may expect a large number of 
deaths and burials. "When roses and violets 
flourish in autumn, it is an evil sign of plague and 
pestilence during the following year." (English), 

John Ray, commenting on this proverb, declared 
that there was no great mortality nor epidemic 
in England during the summer and autumn of 
1667, yet the preceding winter was unusually 
mild and that the last great plague that visited 
the country followed a very severe and frosty 

A mackerel sky never holds three days dry. (English). 

"Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet and 
never long dry," "Mackerel clouds in sky, 

Weather Proverbs 205 

expect more wet than dry." "A mackerel sky 
is as much for wet as 'tis for dry." "Mackerel 
scales, furl your sails." **A mackerel sky, not 
twenty-four hours dry." **A mackerel sky 
denotes fair weather for that day, but rain a day 
or two after." "Mackerel sky and mares* tails 
make lofty ships carry low sails." (English). 

"It is still an article of belief even among educated 
people that what is called a mackerel sky prog- 
nosticates wet. In Scotland they hold the same 
thing of the clouds when they present three dis- 
tinct shades. In Carr's Dialect of Craven^ 1828, 
i., 221, it is said that Hen Scrattins are 'small and 
circular white clouds denoting rain or wind. A 
friend informs me,' says the writer, *that it is 
usual in Devonshire for the people to say, "See 
mackerel backs and horse- tails,' as indicative of 
rain or wind.' " — C. Carew HazliU, 

A March wisher is never a good fisher. (English, Scotch). 

March, when blustering and stormy, is not a good 
month for fishing. 

An evening red and a morning grey, two sure signs of one 
fair day. (English). 

See Matt, xvi : 2, 3. 

"An evening grey and a morning red will send a 
shepherd wet to bed." "Evening grey and 
morning red make the shepherd hang his head." 
"Evening grey and morning red, put on your 
hat or you 11 wet your head." "A red evening 
and a white morning, rejoice the pilgrim." (Eng- 
lish). "A red evening and a grey morning set the 
pilgrim a-walking." (Italian). "An evening 
red and morning grey make the pilgrim sing. 
(French). "Evening red and weather fine; 
morning red, of rains a sign." (German). 
"The evening red and morning grey are the 
tokens of a bonnie day." (Scotch). "A red 
sky in the morning, occasional showers; a red 
sky in the evening, fine weather is ours." (Welsh) . 

A rainbow in the mom, put your hook in the com; a rain- 
bow at eve, put your hook in the sheave. (English). 

"If the rainbow comes at night, the rain has gone 

2o6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

quite." "A rainbow in the morning is the 
snepherd's warning; a rainbow at night is the 
shepherd's delight." (English), This last pro- 
verb is sometimes given in the following rhyme: 

" The rainbow in the morning 
Is the shepherd's warning 

To carry his coat on his back; 
The rainbow at night 
Is the shepherd's delight 

For then no coat will he lack." 

"Rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow 
to leeward, damp runs away." (English). 
"Rainbows with the new moon, rain until the 
end," (Welsh). "The rainbow has but a bad 
character, she ever commands the rain to cease." 
"If there's a rainbow at eve, it will rain and 
leave." "The boding shepherd heaves a sigh, 
for see, a rainbow spans the sky." "When rain- 
bow does not touch water, clear weather will 
follow." (American). "If the rainbow appears 
when the rain has just begun, the earth will be 
filled; if at the end, it is a sign that the rain will 
stop." (Behar). 

"The weather's taking up now 
For yonder's the weather gaw; 
How bonny is the east now ! 

Now the colors fade awa'." — Scotch Rhyme. 

The weather gaw — i.e. a fragment of a rainbow. 

"A weather-gall at mom,'fine weather all gone; 
A rainbow towards night, fair weather in sight. 
Rainbow at night, sauor's delight; 
Rainbow in morning, sailors take warning." 

English Nautical Rhyme, 

"If the partridge sings when the rainbow 
Spans the sky. 
There is no better sign of wet than when 
It isn't dry." 

Spanish Rhyme. 

At twelfth day, tiie days are lengthened a cock's stride. 


" Some say that, if on the twelfth of January the 
sun shine, it foreshows much wind. Others 
predict by St. Paul's Day (January 25th), saying 

Weather Proverbs 207 

if the sun shine it betokens a good year; if it 
rain or snow, indiflferent; if misty, it predicts 
great dearth; if it thunder, great winds and death 
of people that year." — Shepherd* s Almanac (1676). 

A wet year will make a full bam, but not of com. (Welsh) . 

"After a wet year a cold one." "A dry year never 
starves itself." (English).- "A dry year never 
beggars the master. "A bad year comes in 
swimming." (French). "Misty year, year of 
cornstalks." (Spanish). 

Better be bitten by a snake, than to feel the sun in March. 


" March flowers make no summer bowers." " March 
damp and warm will do farmer much harm." 
(English) . "A dry March never brings its bread . ' ' 
"March grass never did good." (American). 
"When flies swarm in March, sheep come to 
their death." "When gnats dance in March, it 
brings death to sheep." (Dutch), "The March 
sun wounds." (Spanish). "Better slaughter in 
the country than March should come in mild." 

Bullion's Dav, gif ye be fair, for forty days 'twill rain nae 
mair. (Scotch). 

St. Martin Bullion's, July fourth. 

"If Bullion's Day be dry, there will be a good 
harvest." " If the deer rise dry and lie down dry 
on Bullion's Day, there will be a good gose 
harvest." "Gose" refers to the latter part of 
summer. (Scotch). 

Comets bring cold weather. (English). 

In France comets are thought to improve the grape 
crop, and wine that is made during the year 
of their appearance is called "Comet Wine." 

Expect not fair weather in winter from one night's ice. 


Good signs of rain don't always he'p de yotmg crops. 

(American Negro). 

2o8 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Hail brings frost with its tail. (English). 

Hark I I hear the asses bray, we shall have some rain 
today. (English). 

Hen scarts and filly tails make lofty ships wear low sails. 

(English, Scotch). 

''If clouds look as if scratched by a hen, get ready 
to reef your topsails then." C^nglish Sailors' 

If cold at St Peter's Day, it will last bnger. (English). 

It is also said that "The night of St. Peter's 
(February 22nd) shows what the weather will be 
for the next forty days."j 

If it rains before seven, 'twill cease before eleven. (Eng- 

See Proverb: "A foul mom may turn to a fine day." 

The following weather signs are held by some to 
be trustworthy: 

If it rains before daybreak it will cease before eight 
o'clock in the morning. 

If it rains before the sun shines it will rain the next 

If it rains between ei^ht and nine o'clock in the 
morning it will rain till noon. 1 

If rain begins about noon it will continue through 
the afternoon. 

If rain begins after nine o'clock in the evening it 
will rain the next day. 

If rain begins an hour before daybreak it wiU 
probably rain all day. 

If rain begins about five o'clock in the evening it 
will rain all night. 

If rain ceases after midnight it will rain the next 

If rain ceases before midnight it will be clear the 
next day. 

If rain does not cease before noon it will continue 
till evening. 

Weafher Proverbs 209 

There are many other rain signs more or less 

If red the strn begins his race, expect that rain will flow 
apace. (English). 

" A red sun has water in his eye." (English). 

"The side being red at evening 
Forshewes a faire and cleare morning; 
But if the morning riseth red, 
Of wind and raine we shall be sped." 

A. Fleming, 

If robins are seen near houses, it is a sign of rain. (Eng- 

"If the robin sings in the bush, 
Then the weather will be coarse; 
If the robin sings on the bam, 
Then the weather will be warm." 

Old English Rhyme. 

If the cock drink in summer it will rain a little after* 


Cocks are said to clap their wings in an unusual way, 
and to crow more than usual and at an earlier 
hour, just before rain. 

"If the cock goes crowing to bed, hell certainly rise 
with a watery head." (English). 

"If the cock moult before the hen. 
We shall have weather thick and thin; 
But if the hen moult before the cock. 
We shall have weather as hard as a block." 

Old English Rhyme. 

U the crow speak by night and the jackal by day there will 
be either a rain storm or an inundation. (Behar). 

If the first three days of April be foggy, rain In June will 
make the lanes boggy. (English)/ 

If the first thunder is from the east the winter Is over. 

(Zuni Indians). 

"After the first thunder comes the rain." "If the 
first thtmder is in the east, aha! the bear has 
stretched his right arm forth, and the winter is 
over." "With the first thunder the gods rain 

210 Curiosities in Proverbs 

upon the petals." "If the first thunder is in the 
south, aha! the bear has stretched his right leg 
in his winter bed." " If the first thunder is in the 
west, aha! the bear has stretched his left arm in 
his winter bed." "When the clouds rise in 
terraces of white, soon will the country of the 
com priests be pierced with the arrows of rain." 
"With the rain of the north-east comes the ice 
fruit" — ^haiL "When frogs warble, they herald 
rain." "The west rain comes from the world of 
waters to moisten the home of the She Wi." 
"The moon, her face if red be, of water speaks 
she." "When the butterfly comes, comes also 
the summer." "When the dew is seen shining 
on the leaves, the mist rolled down from the 
mountains last night." "When the sun sets 
sadly, the morning will be angry." "When the 
sun is in his house (surrounded by a halo), it will 
rain soon." "The moon if in house be, cloud it 
will, rain soon will come." — Zuni Indian Weather 
Sayings (U. S. Signal Service Notes IX. Weather 

If the halo is seen round the moon on Sunday (night), it will 
rain the day following; if on Thursday, (it wUl rain) 
the day foUowing; and if on Tuesday, (it will rain) 
on the eighth day. (Behar). 

"Far burr (halo), near rain; near burr, far rain." 
"Bigger the ring, nearer the wet." "The moon 
with a circle brings water in her beak." "A 
lunar halo indicates rain, and the number of 
stars enclosed, the number of days of rain." 
"When the wheel is far, the storm is n'ar; when 
the wheel is near, the storm is far." (English). 
"When rotmd the moon there is a brugh (halo), 
the weather will be cold and rough." "A far 
brugh, a near storm." (Scotch). "Circle near, 
water far; circle far, water near." (Italian). 
"A halo round the moon is a sign of wind." 

If the oak's before the ash, then youll only get a splash; 
if the ash precedes the oak, then you may expect a 
soak. (English and Scotch). 

It is a common belief that one can tell whether the 
summer will be dry or wet by the leafing of the 

Weafher Proverbs 211 

trees. Another English saying asserts that "If 
the oak is out before the ash, 'twill be a summer of 
wet and splash; but if the ash is before the oak, 
'twill be a summer of fire and smoke " — which has 
been abbreviated by the Kentish folk to "Oak 
smoke, ash squash." Other forms of the sa5ring 
are found in different parts of England and Scot- 
land. The only proverb related to the above that 
can be relied upon is used in Surrey where the 
people say, "If the oak before the ash come out, 
there has been or there will be drought." 

If the Pleiades rise fine they set rainy, and if they rise wet 
they set fine. (Swahilian). 

If there be neither snow nor rain, then will be dear all sorts 
of grain. (English). 

If there's ice in November that will bear a duck, there'll be 
nothing after but sludge and muck. (English). 

"Ice in November brings mud in December." "If 
the ice will bear a goose before Christmas, it will 
not bear a duck after." "If the geese at St. 
Martin's Day (November nth) stand on ice, 
they will walk in mud on Christmas." (English). 

" If ducks do slide at HoUantide, 
At Christmas they will swim; 
If ducks do swim at Hollantide, 
At Christmas they will slide." 

If you see a cloudless night and a cloudy day, be sure, says 
Ghflgh, "that the rains are at an end." (Behar). 

In the wane of the moon, a cloudy morning bodes a fair 
afternoon. (English). 

It is better to see a troop of wolves than a fine February. 


"Warm February, bad hay crop; cold February, 
good hay crop." "All the months in the year 
curse a fair Februeer." "The Welshman had 
rather see his dam on the bier, than to see a fair 
Februeer." "February singing never stints 
stinging." "A February spring is not worth a 
pin." "February fill the dyke, weather either 

^12 Curiosities in Proveibs 

black or white; but if it be white, it's better to 
Hke." "In February if thou hearest thunder, 
thou wilt see a summer's wonder." (EngHsh). 
"One would rather see a wolf in February than a 
peasant in his shirt sleeves." (German), "li 
in February there be no rain, 'tis neither good for 
hay nor grain." (Spain, Portugal). "February 
rain is only good to fill ditches." " February rain 
is as good as manure." " Snow in February puts 
little wheat in the granary." (French). "Snow 
which falls in the month of February puts the 
usurer in a good humour." (Italian). "When it 
rains in February it will be temperate all the 
year." (Spanish). "When February gives snow, 
it fine weather foreshows." (Norman French). 

It never thunders but it rains. (English). 

It will be the same weather for nine weeks as it is on the 
ninth day after Chiistmas. (Swedish). 

March dry, good rye; March wet, good wheat (English). 

"March rainy, April windy, and then June will come 
beautiful with flowers." (Spanish). "A dry 
March, wet April, and cool May, fill bam, cellar, 
and bring much hay." (EngUsn). 

Mist in spring is worse than poison. (Welsh) . 

"Mist in spring is a sign of snow." "Mist in 
summer is a sign of heat." "Mist in autumn is 
a sign of rain. "Mist in winter is a sign of 
snow." (Welsh). 

North-west is far the best, north-east is bad for man and 
beast (English). 

There are a vast number of proverbial sa5rings about 
wind and weather; a few only are here given: 
" Look not, like the Dutchman, to leeward for fine 
weather." "Wind roaring in chimney, rain to 
come." "A veering wind, lair weather; a backing 
wind, foul weather. " If the wind be hushed with 
sudden heat, expect heavy rain." "A high 
wind prevents frost." "A northern air brings 
weather fair." " Do business with men when the 

Weafher Proverbs 213 

wind is in the north-west." "When the wind is 
from the east, it is four and twenty hours at 
least." "An easterly wind's rain makes fools 
fain." "The wind in the West suits everyone 
best." "Wind west, rain's nest." "When wind 
is west, health is best." "A western wind 
carrieth water in his hand." (English). "No 
weather ill, if the wind be still." (English and 
Scotch). "A west wind, north about, never 
hangs lang out." (Scotch). "A north wind has 
no com." (Spanish). " Great heat brings wind." 
" The east wind breaks up the frost." (Chinese). 
"A north wind with new moon will hold until 
the full." (American). "North wind show de 
cracks in de house." (American Negro). "If 
the east wind blows in Sawan (July and August), 
sell your bullocks and buy cows." There will be 
no ploughing. " If the west wind blow in S&wan 
for only two or three days, rice will grow even 
behind your hearth." "When the wind blows 
from all quarters, there is hope of rain." (Behar) . 

The following Zuni Indian sayings, as given in the 
Notes of the United States Signal Service ^ Note IX,, 
will be of interest: 

"Wind from the North, cold and snow. 
Wind from the Western river of the Northland 
(Northwest wind), snow. 
Wind from the world of waters (West wind), 

Wind from the Southern river of the worid of 
waters (South-west wind), rain. 
Wind from the land of the beautiful red (South 
wind), lovely odours and rain. 
Wind from the wooden cafions (South-cast wind), 

rain and moist clouds. 
Wind from the land of day, it is the breath of 

health and brings the days of long life. 
Winds from the lands of cold (North-east wind), 

the rain bief ore which flees the harvest. 
Winds from the lands of cold (North-east wind), 

the fruit of ice. 
Wind from the right hand of the West is the breath 
of the God of Sand Clouds." 

"The west wind always brings wet weather, 
The east wind cold and wet together, 


214 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The south wind surely brings usiain. 
The north wind blows it back again.' 

Old English Rhyme. 

"When the wind is in the East, then the fishes bite 

the least; 
When the wind is in the West, then the fishes bite 

the best; 
When the wind is in the North, then the fishes do 

come forth; 
When the wind is in the South, it blows the bait 

in the fish's mouth." — Old English Rhyme. 

"When the wind is in the North, hail comes forth; 
When the wind is in the West, look for wat blast; 
When the wind's in the Soud, the weather will be 

fresh and gude; 
When the wind is in the East, cauld and snow 

comes meist." — Old Scotch Rhyme. 


" North winds send hail, South winds bring rain, 
East winds we bewail, West winds blow amain; 
North-east is too cold, South-east not too warm, 
North-west is too bold, South-west does no harm. 



The North is a noyer to grass of all suits; 
The East a destroyer to herb and all fruits. 


"The South, with his showers, refresheth the com; 
The West to all flowers may not be forlome. 


"The West, as a father, all goodness doth bring; 
The East, a forbearer, no manner of things; 
The South, as unkind, draweth sickness too near; 
The North, as a friend, maketh all again dear. 

With temperate wind, we blessed be of God, 
With tempest we find we are beat with His rod; 
All power, we know, to remain in His hand. 
However wind blow, by sea or by land." 

Thomas Tusser. 

Weafher Proverbs 215 

On St. liichaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the 
blackberries. (Irish). 

St. Michaelmas Day, September 29th. 

On St Bamabas's Day the sun comes to stay. (Spanish). 
St. Bamabas's Day, Jtme nth. 

Rain before church, rain all the week little or much. 


"If there is rain in the Mass/ twill rain through the 
week either mair or less." (Scotch). 

Rain in Chitra (October) destroys the fertility of the soil 
and is likely to produce blight. (Behar). 

Saturday's new, and Sunday's full was never fine, and 
never wool. (English). 

"If the moon change on a Sunday there will be a 
flood before the month is out.'* "A Saturday 
moon if it comes once in seven years, comes once 
too soon." (English). "A Wednesday's change 
is bad." (Italian). "Saturday's moon and 
Sunday's prime, once is enough in seven years' 
time." (Scotch). "If the weather on the sixth 
day is the same as that on the fourth day of the 
moon, the same weather will continue during the 
whole moon." (Spanish). 

So far as the sun shines on Christmas Day, so far will the 
snow blow in May. (German). 

"If the Sim shine through the apple tree on Christ- 
mas Day, there will be an abundant crop in the 
following year." (English). 

St. Mamertius, St. Pancras, and St. Gervais do not pass 
without frost (French). 

That is, frost is sure to come on May the eleventh, 
twelfth, or thirteenth. 

The barking of the fox and the flowering of the kas grass 
are signs of the end of the rains. (Behar). 

"The appearance of the star Canopus and the 
flowenng of the kas grass in the forests are signs 
of the end of the rains." " The kfis grass and the 

2i6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

kus grass flower on the fourth of the light half of 
Bhadou (August and September), why do you 
plant out, O cultivator! " for there will be no more 
rain. (Behar). 

The dirt bird sings, we shall have rain. (English). 

The dirt bird — t.c, the dirt owl. 

The screeching of an owl indicates cold or storm. 
The hooting of an owlat night indicates fair weather. 
The crying of an owl in storm indicates fair 

The crying of an owl in fair weather indicates storm. 
The screaming of an owl in bad weather indicates 

change of weather.— OW Weather Signs. 
In Syria the owl is called the *' Mother of Ruins" ; in 

China, the "Bird which Calls for the Soul"; in 

Ireland, the "Old Woman of the Night." 

The first three days in January rule the coming three 
months. (English). 

"The month of January is like a gentleman": As 
he begins so he goes on. (Spanish). "A favour- 
able January brings us a good year," (English). 

The full moon brings fair weather. (English). 

"The full moon eats clouds." "The moon grows 
fat on clouds." " Near full moon a misty simrise 
bodes fair weather and cloudless skies." "If the 
full moon rise red expect wind." 

Thunder in spring, cold will bring. (English). 

" Early thunder, early spring." " Lightning in sum- 
mer indicates good healthy weather." "Thun- 
der in the fall indicates a mild open winter." 
"Winter thunder bodes summer's hunger." 

January thunder indicates wind, com, and cattle. 

February thunder indicates poor maple-sugar year. 

March thunder indicates coming sorrow. 

In Germany thtmder in March is thought to indi- 
cate a fruitful year. 

April thunder indicates a good hay and com crop. 

May thunder indicates that there will be no thunder 
during August and September. 

July thunder indicates that the wheat and barley 
will suffer harm. 

Weafher Proverbs 217 

August thunder indications do not come alone: one 

thunder storm will follow another. 
September thunder indicates a good crop of grain 
and fruit. 

In Germany thunder in September is thought 
to indicate snow in Februaiy and March and 
a large crop of grapes. 
November thunder indicates that the coming year 

will be fertile. 
December thunder indicates good weather. 

Old English Weather Signs. 

Ughtin is water on the fire. (Hindustani). 

"September and October (Coar) is but the gate of 

October and November (Cdrtic) ends, yet scarcely 

November and December (Ughun) just lets 

water seethe. 
December and January (Poos) makes us but in 

comers breathe. 
January and February (Magh) lengthens by 

minute degrees; 
But February and March (P'hagxm) straightens 

out our knees; 
Then March and April (Cheyt) the pleasant year 

And dirty fellows wash their faces." 
By the time it takes to boil water does the day 


Whea February gives snow, it fine weather foreshows. 


When fine weather is lost, it will come from the North. 


''When rain is lost, it will come from the East." 

When small water snakes leave the sand in low damp 
lands, frost may be expected in three days. (Apache 

When the cat lies on its brain, it is going to rain. (English). 

"Lies on its brain" — i.e,, lies on its back. 

** When a cat sneezes, it is a sign of rain." " When a 
cat scratches the table l^s a change in the 

2i8 Curiosities in Proverbs 

weather is coming." "If the cat washes her 
face o'er the ear, 'tis a sign the weather *ill be 
fine and clear." "When cats wipe their jaws 
with their feet, it is a sign of rain." "The cardi- 
nal point to which a cat turns and waxes her 
face after a rain, shows the direction from whidi 
the wind will blow." "The old woman promised 
a fine day on the morrow, because the cat's sldn 
looked bright." "When a cat scratches itsdf, 
or scratches on a log or tree, it indicates rain." 
"When sparks are seen on stroking a cat's back, 
expect a change of weather." "When a cat 
washes its face with its back to the fire, expect a 
thaw in winter." (English). "When the cat 
lies in the sun in February, she will creep behind 
the stove in March.' (English, German), 
"Cats wash their faces before a thaw." "Cats 
sit with their backs to the. fire before snow." 
"Cats scratch a wall or a post before wind." 
(Scotch). "Putting a cat under a pot brings 
bad weather." (Irish). "When the cat turns 
toward the north and licks its face the wind will 
soon blow from that direction." (Greek) 

When the clouds fly like the wings of the partridge and 
when a widow smiles, one is going to rain and the 
other to marry. (Behar). 

When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to 
strengthen. (English). 

"As the days begin to shorten, the heat begins to 
scorch them." (English). 

When there is thunder rain falls. (Marathi) . 

This is not used so much as a weather proverb as a 
sa5dng to indicate that when the master of the 
house is angry the members of his family weep. 


A blind man can see his mouth. (Irish). 

A cat will be a small thing to an old dame who swallowed 
an dephant. (Tamil) . 

A fool, unless he knows Latin, is never a great fool. 


Learned fools are the greatest fools." (English, 
German, French). "None can play the fool as 
well as a wise man. ' ' (English) . 

« All beginnings are hard," said the thief, and began by 
stealing the anvil. (Dutch). 

A man is of little use when his wife's a widow. (Scotch). 

An inch off a man's nose is a great deal. (Gaelic) . 

As bad as marrying the devil's daughter, and living with 
the old folks. (English). 

** Bad company," said the thief, as he went to the gallows 
between the hangman and the monk. (Dutch). 

By talking too loud the jaw becomes swelled. (Louisiana 
He who uses abusive language when angry may 
receive a blow that will cause his jaw to be 

Daddy Tortoise goes slow, but he gets to the goal while 
Daddy Deer is asleep. (Louisiana Creole). 

Do a man a gude turn and he'll never forgi'e you. (Scotch) 

" Save a thief from the gallows and he will hang you 
for it." (French). Bring up a raven and he 


220 Curiosities in Proverbs 

will pick out your eyes." (French, German). 
"After crossing the river the boatman gets a 
cuff." (Tamil). "As soon as you have drunk 
you turn your back upon the spring." "He has 
brought up a bird to pick out his own eyes." 
"I taught you to swim, and now you wotild 
drown me." " Save a thief from the ^sdlows and 
he'll be the first to cut your throat." "The axe 
goes to the wood from which it borrowed its 
helve." "The sword has forgotten tiie smith 
that forged it." "When I had thatched his 
house he would have hurled me from the roof." 
(English) . "He that you seat upon your shoulder 
will often try to get upon your head." (Danish). 

Though this proverb seems to be an expression of 
Scotch wit it was used seriously particularly 
during the early part of the eighteenth century. 
It originated in the Shetland Islands where there 
was an old superstition that it was unlucky to 
save a drowning man as he would be sure to 
reward the service rendered by some act of 
unkindness, if not of real injury. The supersti- 
tion came from the habit of permitting men to 
drown who attempted to escape from a wreck, 
so that there being no survivors the vessel might 
be considered lawful plunder. 

"'Are you mad?' said he, 'you that have lived sae 
lang in Zetland, to risk the saving of a drowning 
man? Wot ye not, if you bring hmi to life again, 
he will be sure to do you some capital injury. " 

Sir WdUer Scott in The Pirate. 

'"In troth,' said the Ranzelman, 'they are wise 
folks that let wave and withy htmd their ain — 
luck never came of a half drowned man, or a half 
hanged one either.'" — Sir Walter Scott in The 

Do not be breakin' a shin on a stool tliaf s not in your'way. 


Do not cut your donkey's tail in a crowd— one will say 
" It is too long," another " Too short." (Osmanli). 

" Different people take different views." (English). 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 221 

Dress a little toad, and it will look pretty. (Spanish). 

By suitable clothing the ugliest or most deformed 
person can be made to look presentable if not 

Early rising is the first thing that puts a man to the door. 


See Rhyming Proverbs: " Early to rise and late to 
bed, lifts again the debtor's head." 

See also Grouping Proverbs: "To rise at five, dine 
at nine, sup at nve, so to bed at nine, make a man 
live to ninety-nine. 

This proverb is intended as a jest. The expression, 
"puts a man to the door," is sometimes used to 
indicate that the man is utterly ruined. On the 
other hand, it is intended to be taken literally and 
conveys the thought that the man who is an 
early riser passes through his bedroom door, and 
then through the outer door of his house, to 
engage in business. By early rising he becomes 

"To rise betimes makes one healthy, virtuous, and 
rich." (Latin). "Early to bed and early to 
rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." 
(German). "Rise early and you will see; take 
pains and you will grow rich." (Spanish). 
Early to rise has virtues three: 'tis healthy, 
wealthy, and godlie." (English — i6th century). 

"Sloth makes all things difficult; but industry all 
things easy, as Poor Richard says; and he that 
riseth late must trot all day and shaU scarce 
overtake his business at night; while laziness 
travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes 
him, as we read in Poor Richard, who adds. 
Drive thy business I let not that drive thee! and: 

Early to bed and early to rise 

Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 

So what signifies wishing and hoping for better 
times? We may make these times better if we 
bestir ourselves." — Benjamin Franklin. 

f< Brenr little helps to lighten the freight/' said the cap- 
tauii as he threw his wife overboardl (Dutch). 

222 Curiosities in Proverbs 

K Fools are not planted or sowedi they grow of themselves. 

"Fools grow without watering." (Italian). "An 
ill weSd grows of its own accord." (French). 
"Weeds want no sowing." (English). "Ill 
weeds grow soonest and last longest." (JDanish)* 

" GulpI *' quoth the wife, when she swallowed her tongue 


" Hame's hamely," quo* the deil when he found himsel 
in the Court o* Sessions. (Scotch). 

Hanging'^B sair on the eesight. (Scotch). 

He breaks his wife's head and then buys a plaster for It. 


"You break my head and then bring me a plaster." 
(English). "You first break my head and then 
plaster my skull." (Spanish). 

"HechI'* quo HowiOi when he swallowed his wife's due. 


" Hech * * — an expression of surprise or grief. " Clue " 
— a ball of worsted. 

He has done Uke the Perugian, who, when his head was 
broken, ran home for his helmet. (Italian). 

He has no nose. " Will you take snuff ? " (Marathi). 

He is asked the price of rice, but answers, " Wheat is sold 
at ten paseri I '' (Behar). 

This aphorism is used in comment when anyone 
gives an irrelevant answer to a question. 

He may be trusted with a house ftdl of millstones* (Eng- 

Butnot with anything that he is able to carry away. 

He may well be musical, for he walks upon German flutes. 


Applied to a musician who has very slender legs. 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 223 

He looks as angry as if he was vexed. (Irish). 

He sits wi' little ease wha sits on his neighbour's coat-tail. 


He sprang from a chestnut shell and he does not admire the 
husk. (Osmanli). 

Applied to one who is ashamed of his family or 

He that would be healthy must wear the same clothes in 
summer as in winter. (Spanish). 

He who likes noise, let him buy a pig. (Spanish). 

I am a man for eating and drinking, but for fighting, here is 
my hump-backed brother. (Marathi). 

If a camel comes to the village of ignorant people, they all 
declare that their ancestor has risen from the dead. 


A proverb used to ridicule ignorant people of the 
lower class who look with wonder on that which 
is new or unusual and are easily duped by ad- 
venturers and unprincipled tradesmen. 

If all fools wore white caps, we should look like a flock of 
sheep. (Russian). 

If '* ifs " and '' ans " were pots and pans, there'd be no 
work for tinker's hands. (English, Scotch). 

"With an *if' we might put Paris in a bottle." 
"Were it not for *if' and *but,' we should all be 
rich forever." (French). "Had it not been for 
an *if/ the old woman would have bitten a wolf." 

"The man who invented *if * and 'but* must surely 
have transformed chopped straw into gold." 

G. A, Burger, 

If mv aunt were wheels, she would be an omnibus. 

"If my aunt had been a man, she'd have been my 
unde." (English). 

224 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If you have no pain, btsy a goat. (Persian). 

If you keep a goat it will cause you so much trou- 
ble that you will think it easier to endure 
physical pain. 

"I hate 'bout gates," quo' the wife when she hnii'd her 
man thioi^ the ingle. (Scotch). 

I hate roundabout ways, come straight to the 

"*I never lov'd *bout gates/ quoth the good wife, 
when she harl'd (trsul'd) the good man o'er the 
fire. The second part is add^ only to make it 
comical; it signifies no more, but I always lov'd 
plain dealing. — James Kelly, 

It is because of his good heart that the crab has no head* 

(Martinique Creole). 

This proverb, savs Lafcadio Ream, "implies that 
excessive good nature is usually indicative of 
feeble reasoning power." 

It's a lonesome washing that there's not a (man's) shirt in* 


It's as true as Biglam's cat crew, and the cock rock'd the 
cradle. (Scotch). 

That is to say, it is untrue. 

I would sooner be your Bible than your horse. (Scotch). 

Because you neglect your Bible and overwork your 

Let that which is bst be for God. (Spanish). 

"The tale on which this is founded is a tale in a 
sentence. A man makes his will in Spain and, 
after having allotted everything, he says: 'There 
is a cow, but the cow was lost; if it be tound it is 
for so and so, but if it is never found it is for God.' 
Did I say that proverb was Spanish? It is 
literally, but it is not merely Spanish morally, 
suggestively, in all its wider meanings. We have 
left God thousands of lost cows, He may have 
them all; if we find them we will bring them home, 
but if we do not find them the Lord may have 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 225 

them. We have made over all our bad debts to 
Him, but as to the actual money we have in hand 
that is another matter." — Joseph Parker in 
People's Bible. • 

Like a man saying, when asked why he was getting up the 
coacoanut tree, that he wanted grass for his calf. 


Like scratching one's head with a firebrand. (Tdugu). 

A most absurd procedure but no more absurd than 
to employ an incompetent and unworthy person 
to represent you in an important enterprise. He 
will be sure to do you more injuiy than good. 

Little folk are soon angry. (Scotch). 

On hearing this phrase for the first time one natur- 
ally asks why little folk are more quickly angered 
than others^ The answer is found in another 
saying: "Little folk are soon angry, for their 
hearts get soon to their mouths." 

Man's twal is no sae gude as the deil's dizzen. (Scotch). 

Because "man's twal" is twdve and the deil's 
dizzen is thirteen. 

Marry a moimtainy woman and youll marry the whole 
mountain. (Irish). 

Marry a woman who lives on the mountain, and you 
will have to be intimate with all her friends and 
kindred who are also inhabitants of the mountain. 

Musn't tie up the hound with a string of sausages.] (Louisi- 
ana Creole). 

Naething to be done in haste but gripping fleas. (Scotch, 
English, German, Dutch, Russian). 

"Nothing is done wdl in haste, except running from 
the pUigue or a quarrd, and catching fleas." 

Ne'er gie me my death in a toom dish. (Scotch) . 
Toom — i,e. empty. 

Intended as a request for something to eat. Do not 
starve me to death by compelling me to wait long 
for my meal. 


226 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Ne'er many a widow unless her first man was hanged. 


If he has bee^ hanged, she will not refer to his 
virtues nor make comparisons to your disad- 

Now I am going to the battle of the frogs: it is to be seen 
whether I am alive or dead. (Behar) . 

See Proverbs Pounded on Historic Incidents, etc. : 
" The weaver lost his way in a linseed field." 

Weavers are held in disrepute and ridiculed bv 
Bihari peasants. In a note to the above proverb 
John Christian relates the following absurd tale 
that is common among the people and that 
r^resents a weaver recotmting to his wondering 
wife the particulars of a severe combat that he 
has had with a frog in which he was defeated. 

"Once, being on a journey, he met a frog on the 
road. The first to strike was the frog with re- 
peated blows. The jolha (weaver) feU below 
and the frog was on top of him (t.e. the frog won 
the fight). Thus defeated, he appeared in court 
and cried: *0 Sir! the frog has beaten me. He 
broke my weaving frame and ran away with my 
shuttle, and in addition gave me a thrashing.' 
The wife of the weaver, with tears in her ^es, 
began to inquire, 'What kind of a being is a 
froggy? ' ' He has long legs, my dear, and a beak 
like that of a crane; he hits from above as well as 
below (^., he hits from above and presses from 
below),* said the weaver, and added: 'Now hear, 
brother, hear, my nephew, and hear, my mother 
dear, I am now off to do battle with the frogs, 
whether I Hve or die! * '* 

Of that hair neither cat nor dog. (Spanish). 

Alluding to red hair which is disliked in Spain. 

One man's beard is burning^ another goes to light his 
cigarette by it. (Marathi). 

See Singular Proverbs: ** If you see your neighbour's 
beard on fire, water your own." 

See also Proverbs Founded on Historic Incidents, 
etc.: "He set fire to his beard." "The camel is 

Wit and Htunour in Proverbs 227 

drowning and the goat asks him the depth of the 
water," is a proverb of similar import. 

The proverb is used in referring to absent-minded- 
ness. For other sayings referring to absent- 
mindedness, see Impossibilities and Absurdities 
in Proverbs: "The story of one who wandered 
through the jungle in search of a lamb that he 
had on his shoulder." 

The man is so intent on getting a light that he 
mistakes his companion's red beard for a burning 
match or cigar, and thrusts his cigarette into the 
hair. The absurdity of the act gives force to the 

There are several other proverbs of like character 
that are quoted with different applications. For 
example, the following are used to indicate false 
sympathy: "When one msui cried that his beard 
was on fire, another followed him asking for a 
light for his cigar." (Telugu). "One man's 
house is on fire, another warms himself by it." 
(Urdu). "If my beard is burnt, others try to 
fight their pipe at it." (Turkish). The following 
is used to express pleasure at another's misfor- 
tune: "One man's beard is on fire and another 
man warms his hands by it." (Kashmiri). And 
this as a taunt at one who having submitted to 
indignities will have to suffer additional insults: 
"Hast shaven the gentile and he is pleased, set 
fire to his beard also, and thou wilt never be 
finished laughing at him." (Hebrew). 

Other sayings relating to the beard are as follows: 
" For such a beard, such a skin." " To make the 
beard tremble." (Spanish). "Don't pluck a 
man's beard whom you don't know." "He is 
well, but don't pull his beard." (Gaelic). "The 
men with beards ' * — ^rustics. (Latin) . "To pull 
the devil by the beard." "To make his beard" 
— to cheat him. "To beard him" — to affront 
him. (English). 

Put her in the mortar and she will seven times avoid hemg 
hit by the pestle. (Marathi). 

The ridiculous picture of a person in a mortar 
dodging the blows of a pestle is here given as an 
appropriate illustration of the stratagems of a 

228 Curiosities in Proverbs 

cunning man. Sometimes a similar idea is 
expressed in the form of the question, "After 
putting one's head into the mortar, who fears the 
pestle ? " 

Raggit folk and bonny folk are aye ta'en baud o'. (Scotch). 

Spoken in jest when anyone tears his clothes on a 
nail or some other projection. 

School boys are the most reasonable people in the worid; 
tiiey care not how little they have for their money. 


They care not how little education they receive 
for the money that is paid for their tuition. 

"You pay more for your schooling than your learn- 
ing is worth." (English). 

Scotsmen tak a' they can get, and a little more if they can. 

Sycophants scratch pimples for a livelihood. (Telugu). 

The ass boasted that there was no voice equal to his, and 
no gait equal to that of his elder sister. (Tamil). 

The barber learns his art on the orphan's face. (Arabian). 

"When a Village Lyceum Committee asks me to 
pve a lecture and I tell them I will read one I am 
just writing they are pleased. Poor men, they 
little know how different that lecture will be 
when it is given in New York or is printed. I 
* try it on* on them. * The barber learns his trade 
on the orphan's chin.'" — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 

This was a favourite proverb with Mr. Emerson. 

The best art of the swimmer is to know how to secure his 
clothes. (Spanish). 

The blind son's name is Lily-eyed. (Bengalese). 

"Vile persons are decorated with fine titles and 
attributes, as when one being childless has at 
length a son bom blind and calls him, through 
a doting fondness, Lily-eyed!" — W, Morton, 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 229 

The camel going to seek horns lost his ears. (Latin, 
Hebrew, English, Modem Greek, Turkish). 

"The camel, while seeking horns, died in both 
ears" — ^like the stag. (Osmanli). "The ass 
went seeking for horns and lost his ears." (Ara- 
bian). "The crow went to learn the ways of the 
goose, but lost its own." The waddling gait of 
the goose is greatly admired by Bihari peasants. 
(Behar). "To go for wool and return ^om." 

This absurd proverb is generally applied to people 
who neglect to develop their natural talents, or 
refuse opportunities for advancement that come 
to people in the station of life to which they 
belong, and ape the manners and speech of others 
whom they envy, hoping thereby to secure 
success and fame. In seeking to better their 
condition they lose the advantages that are at 

"The fable seems to have taken its rise from the 
camel's having shorter ears than most animals of 
its size, and to its not being, or reputed not to be, 
quick of hearing. Hence the ancients feigned 
that Jupiter, offended at their asking for horns, 
had deprived them of their ears also," — Robert 

Professor Alexander N^ris says that the proverb 
was borrowed from Msop's Fables, It is also 
claimed that it was first spoken by the Hebrew 
Rabbis and applied by them in the Talmud to 
Balaam, who being appointed as a prophet of 
Israel fell from his high position through ignor- 

The camel is drowning and the goat asks him the depth 
of the water. (Marathi). 

See proverb: "One man's beard is burning, another 
^oes to light a cigarette by it." 

Tms is a taunt at men who are self-centred and 
absent-minded. The thoughts of the goat are so 
fully occupied with planning some way by which 
he can cross the river that he does not perceive 
that the camel is in peril of drowning and asks 
for information regar(Hng the depth of the water. 

2$o Curiosities in Proverbs 

V The chickens don't brag about their own soup. (Marti- 
nique Creole). 

The reference is of course to chicken soup. 

The cockroach is never in the right where the fowl is 
concerned. (Trinidad Creole). 

Lafcadio Heam declared that he found this proverb 
in every dialect that he had been able to study. 

"The cockroach is never silly enough to approach 
the door of the henhouse." (Martinique Creole). 
"The cockroach is always wrong when arguing 
with the chickens." (English). "The cock- 
roach never wins its cause when the diicken is 
judge." (Haytian). 

In a note to this proverb Mr. John Bigdow quotes 
P. B. Hunt of Philadelphia as saying: "Hens feed 
on cockroaches in the West Indies to such an 
extent as to make the yolks of their ^gs pjde, 
thin, and at times more or less bitter, just as our 
hens' eggs are affected in the 'locust year* by a 
similar course of feeding. ... It is the com- 
monest negro proverb in Martinique. When in 
1845 the Chamber of Deputies of France was 
discussing the question of slavery in the colonies 
and proposed a plan by which a slave could 
redeem himself by an appeal to the colonial 
magistrates, Rouillat de Cussac, a Martinique 
lawyer, told the deputies that in this case the 
slave would repeat to them leur prooerh le plus 
habituel, 'Ravet pas teni raison devant poul^.' 
It has always been in use in Trinidad, which was 
both a French and Spanish island before it was 
English. The negroes of Jamaica and the other 
British West Indies say: 'Cockroach never in de 
right before fowls.* 'Cockroach eber so drunk, 
him no walk past fowl yard.* ' When cockroach 
make dance, him no ax fowl.* ** — "Wit and Wis- 
dom of the Haytians ** {Harper* s Monthly ^ 1875). 

The dog has four paws, but it is not able to go four different 
ways. (Martinique Creole). 

Four different ways at the same time. 

The devil is a busy bishop in his own diocese. (English, 


Wit and Humour in Proverbs 231 

The frog enjoys itself in water, but not in hot water. (Wolof 
— ^West African). 

The frog has no s^iirt. and you want him to wear drawers. 

(Trinidad Creole), 

The height 0' nonsense is supping soor milk wi' a brogue. 


Brogue — i.e. bradawl. 

"Keeping the sea back with a pitchfork." "You 
cannot drive a windmill with a pair of bellows." 
" Long ere you cut down an oak with a penknife." 

Other proverbs of similar nature will be found under 
Impossibilities and Absurdities in Proverbs. 

The K&jar has gone to Bihflr, while the wife has wide 
spread her eyelids. (Behar). 

Kajar — i.e. lamp-black. 

The ludicrous picture presented by this proverb is 
that of a woman, who, desiring to put some lamp- 
black on the lower lids of her eyes according to 
the practices of the women of the district, opens 
her eyes wide for the purpose and finds that there 
is none within reach, so instead of exerting herself 
to get it she remains with staring countenance 
vainly waiting for it to be brought. The ridicu- 
lousness of her position, the unsatisfied vanity 
depicted in her features, and the hopelessness of 
her expectation unite in making the {picture one 
that fitly represents people who wait without 
exertion for some turn in events, by which lost 
opportunities for personal betterment will return. 

"They have gone to Bihar for the coUyrium and the 
bride contmues looking in expectation." (Hin- 

The moat is heaven to the cat that falls into it. (Telugu). 

He wiU be drowned. 

The proverb is ai>plied to people who become in- 
volved in inextricable difficulties. 

The mosquito is without a soul, but its whizzing vexes the 
sotd. (Osmanli). 

232 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The plaintiif and defendant are in a boat, the witnesses 
are obliged to swim. (Hindustani). 

When it comes to the court, the plaintiff and defend- 
ant may be anxious as to the issue of the trials 
but the witnesses have to stir themselves to 
greater exertion. 

There is no sore as big as the head cut off. (Vai — ^West 

There is nothing so eloquent as a rattlesnake's taiL 

(American Indian). 

*' There's a mote in't," quo' the man when he swallowed 
the dishdout. (Scotch). 

There's mair knavefy on sea and land than a' the warld 
beside. (Scotch). 

'' There's many a sort of instrument," said the man who 
had the wooden trump. (Irish). 

'* There's sma sorrow at our parting," as the auld mear 
said to the broken cart. (Scotch). 

The Rui fish grieves at falling into the hands of an un- 
skilful cook. (Bengalese). 

The Rui fish is regarded by the people of Bmgal 
as a great delicacy, and is used m this proverb as 
representing an intelligent person who has come 
under the authority of ian ignorant man or a fooL 

The snake says he doesn't hate the person who kills him. 
but the one who calls out, *'Look at the snake 1'' 

(Martinique Creole). 

The stealing is done by the moustachelesSy but the man 
with a moustache is blamed for it. (Behar). 

"The small fish do the skipping, but it comes down 
on the head of the big fish." (Behar). "The 
small fish, by their activity, stir up the water and 
thus indicate to the fisherman where he should cast 
his net; then, when it is cast, they escape through 
the meshes and let the big fish be caught; so the 
moustacheless man steals food and lets the man 
who has crumbs on his moustache be blamed." 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 233 

The titmouse holds up his feet that the sky may not fall on 

it, (Persian). 

"Would the sea gull support the sky (with her feet) 
in case it fall ? " (Behar). 

The absurd picture of a titmouse sleeping on its 
back with its tiny feet held up to prevent the 
sky from falling on it is presented to the mind 
by this proverb, for the purpose of showing the 
folly of a weak man contending with another who 
is stronger, or attempting to perform a task too 
difficult for him. 

The wren spreads his feet wide in his own house. (Gaelic). 

The absurd picture of the little bird, in its pride 
and assumption of importance, stretching its 
feet wide apart in its own house, is here presented 
to ridicule the pretensions of a conceited 

They came to shoe the Pacha's horse and the beetle 
stretched out his leg. (Arabian). 

"The camels were being branded and the spider 
came to be branded too." (Hindustani). "The 
horses were shoeing themselves, the frogs held 
up their feet." (Afghan). "The camels are 
carried down by the current, the spider says *I 
can find no bottom. * " (Hindustani). 

"They're a bonny pair," as the dell said o' his cloots. 


"'They're a bonny pair,' as the craw said o* his 
legs." "'Shame fa* the couple,* as the cow said 
to her fore feet." " * They're curly and crooket,' 
as the deil said o' his horns." (Scotch). "'That's 
a pair/ as the crow said to his feet." (Gaelic). 

This lie is a good lie: A snake swallowed an elephant. 


To be up to one's neck in love with a pair of tall clogs on. 

To come sailing in a sow's ear. (English). 

234 Curiosities in Proverbs 

To steal the pig and give away the pettitoes for God's 
sake. (Spanish, Italian). 

"He steals a goose and gives the giblets in alms." 
" He'll dress an egg and give the oflfal to the poor." 
"He will swallow an egg and give away the shell 
in alms." "To steal the hog and give the feet 
for alms. " (English) . "To steal the leather and 
give away the shoes for God's sake." "He 
swallowed an egg and gave away the shell in 
alms." (German). "To steal a sheep and give 
away the trotters for God 's sake. ' ' (Portuguese) . 
"To steal the pig and give away the feet for the 
love of God." (Italian). 

What can a pig do with a rose-bottle? (Telugu). 

"Like reading a portion of the Veda to a cow about 
to gore you." "Though religious instruction be 
whispered into the ear of an ass, nothing will 
come of it but the accustomed braying, ' * (Tamil) . 
"A garland of flowers in a monkey's paw." 
(Telugu). "Gold coin to a cat." (Japanese). 
" It is foUy to give comforts to a cow." (Persian). 

What did my father die of ? An excuse ! (Spanish) . 

Applied to people who neglect making a will and 
die intestate. 

What wotdd shame him would turn back a funeral. (Irish) . 

When fortune smiles on a mean person, he orders an 
umbrella to be brought at midnight. (Telugu). 

Among the Telugus an umbrella is a sign of rank or 

"He who is on horseback, he no longer knows his 
own father." (Russian). "Set a beggar on 
horseback and he will ride to the devil." (Latin, 
English, Spanish, German). "A beggar en- 
nobled does not know his own kinsmen. (Ital- 
ian). "When a peasant is on horseback, he 
knows neither God nor any one." "When a 
mean person becomes rich he knows neither 
relatives nor friends." "The dog saw himself 
in fine breeches (and would not recognize his 
companions)." "The clown (or peasant) saw 
himself in plush breeches and was as insolent as 

Wit and Humour in Proverbs 235 

could be/' ''When a clown is on a mule he 
remembers neither God nor the world." (Span- 
ish) . * * When the poor man grows rich, he beholds 
the stars at noonday." (Bengalese). " The Turk, 
if he be but mounted on a horse, thinks, 'I am 
become a bey."* (Osmanli). "Put a beggar on 
horseback — ^he does not trot but he gallops." 
(Dutch). *'A man well mounted is alwajrs 
proud." . "A clown enriched knows neither 
relation nor friend." "There is no pride like a 
beggar grown rich." (French). "Just put a 
mulatto on horseback and he'll tell you his mother 
wasn't a negress." (Louisiana Creole). "As 
soon as a mulatto is able to own an old horse, he 
will tell you that his mother wasn't a nigger." 
(Martinique Creole). "When the slave is freed, 
he thinks himself a nobleman." (Oji — ^West 
African). "A wild boar in place of a pig would 
ravage the town; and a slave, made king, would 
spare nobody." (Yoruba — ^West African). "No 
pride like an enriched beggar's." "The man in 
boots does not know the man in shoes." "Set 
a beggar on horseback and he will gallop." 

** If a Derwaysh were to head the armies of El Islam, 
they would soon reach the ends of the world." 

"Such is the sad effect of wealth — rank pride. 
Mount but a beggar, how the rogue will ride!" 

John Wolcot, 

"A proud beggar, when he is once mounted so high 
as to keep his coach — which was only invented for 
cripples— to carry him in triumph above the 
earth, thinks it below him to look down upon his 
inferiors, and inconsistent with his grandeur to 
take any notice of little people that stand in the 
way of his impetuous career or imperious con- 
tempt. . . .^ Every page or skinkennd, who 
formerly waited upon my lord, or my lady some- 
bodv, that has got preferment and money, sets 
up for a gentleman now-a-days and is proud as 
any beggar in the proverb upon horseback that 
gallops headlong without either fear or wit upon 
the precipice of ambition and the brink of ruin. . . 
Like Alexander's great horse, Bucephalus, which, 

236 Curiosities in Proveibs 

when he was naked, would let anyone back him* 
mount, and welcome; but with his royal trappings 
on, would admit no rider, save only the kmg his 
master."— Oiwa/J Dykes, 

When one bat visits anodier, ** Toa hang and I will do the 
same." (Tamil). 

The last clause is supposed to be spoken by the 
bat acting as host. 

When die crane attempts to dance with the horse she gets 
broken bones. (Danish). 

Wipe wi' the water and wash wi' the towd. (Scotch). 

Used as a kind of reproof to children who when told 
to wash their hands do so in an imperfect way. 

Te hae put a toom spune in my mouth. (Scotch). 

Toom spune — i,e. empty spoon. 

A proverb used by way of complaint after hearing a 
poor sermon. 

Tell sit till ye sweat and work till ye freeze. (Scotch). 

"Hell eat till he sweats and work till he freezes.'* 

'' Te're a fine sword," quo' the fool to the wheat braird. 


Ye're an honest man and Fm your undo — ^thaf s twa big 
lees. (Scotch). 

Young man, youll be troubled till you marry, and from 
men youHl never have rest. (Irish). 

TouVe got the hiccough from the bread and butter you 
never ate. (Irish). 


A fighting Frenchman runs away from even a she-goat. 


This opinion of French valour is quite different from 
that entertained by the French themselves who 
say: "Were the devil to come from heU to fight, 
there would forthwith be a Frenchman to accept 
the challenge." 

A horse is the ruin of the Osmanli; obstinacy ruins the 
Turk. (OsmanU). 

" One great weakness of the Osmanli is the passion 
for possessing a fine horse; whilst the Turks are 
of a slow, stubborn, obstinate character." 

£. /. Davis, 

An Arab with an Arab your face is like a black tooth. 


The Osmanli, knowing how they are hated by Arabs, 
use this proverb to indicate that should one of 
their number be so unfortunate as to come be- 
tween two of them he would be crushed and 
beaten until he became like a black tooth. They 
also say: "Neither the sugar of Damascus, nor 
the face of an Arab," I do not like either of them. 
They are both bad. This same dislike is shared 
by the Turks who declare: "I do not wish for 
camel's milk nor the sight of an Arab." 

A Portuguese apprentice who knows not how to sew and 
would cut out. (Spanish). 

In olden times the Spaniards held the Portuguese 
in contempt. 


238 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Arab diligence, Persian genius, Greek intelligence. 


Arabic is a language, Persian a sweetmeat, and Turkish an 
art (Persian). 

A right Englishman knows not when a thing is well. 


A Russian without the knout seldom does good. (Ger- 

The Russian knout, or whip, was formerly used for 
flogging criminals. 

A Scotchman and a Newcastle grindstone travel all the 
woild over. (English). 

"A Scotchman, a crow, and a Newcastle grindstone 
travel a* the world ower. ' ' (Scotdi) . 

A Scotch mist will wet an Englishman to the skin. (Scotch). 

A Scotsman is one who keeps the Sabbath and every other 
thing he can lay his hands on. (American). 

Beware of a white Spaniard and a black Englishman* 


By the side of an Osmanli, beware how you look; by the 
side of a Secretary, beware what you say. (Osmanli) . 

The Osmanli is quick-tempered and passionate. It 
is therefore wise to control yourself and not 
offend him, even in your looks. The Secretary of 
Government may report your remarks to the 
authorities; it thereiore behooves you to be 
careful what you say in his presence. 

Choose a Brabant sheep, a Guelder ox, a Flemish capon, 
and a Friezeland cow. (Dutch). 

Do not speak Arabic in the Moor's house. (Spanish). 

Do not attempt to speak a language with which you 
are not familiar in the presence of one who uses it 
constantly; do not seek to show your wisdom by 
talking with strangers and the well informed 
on subjects about which you are ignorant. 



Local and National Characteristics 239 

England is tbe paradise of Women. (English) . 

"England is the paradise of women, the i>urgatory 
of men, and the hell of horses." (Italian — Old 
Tuscan). Another form is: "England is a prison 
for men, a paradise for women, a purgatory for 
servants, a nell for horses." 

Oae to Scotland without siller^ and to Ireland without 
blarney. (Scotch). 

Used ironically. 

Get an Irishman on the spit and you'll easily find two 
others to turn him. (Irish). 

Gie a Scotchman an inch and he'll take an ell. (Scotch). 

This saying is evidently borrowed from the familiar 
English proverb: "Give him an inch and he'll 
take an ell." 

"Give a rogue an inch and he'll take an ell." 
(Danish, Dutch). "If you give him a foot he 
. will take four." (French). "Give a clown your 
finger and he will take your hand." (Italian, 
Dutch, English, Spanish, Scotch). "Give me a 
seat and I will make myself room to lie down." 
(Spanish). "If he is allowed to touch your 
finger, he will speedily seize your wrist." (Hin- 
dustani). "Give a priest a small veranda, and 
he will by degrees take the whole house." (Mara- 

God keep the kindly Scot from the cloth-yard shaft, and 
he will keep himself from the handy stroke. (Scotch) • 

In this proverb the Scotch acknowledge the superi- 
ority of the English in archery. 

"Every English archer beareth under his girdle 
twenty-four Scots." (English). 

He appears to have been bred in the mountains of Batue- 
cas. (Spanish). 

"Batuecas is a wild part of Spain, being a branch 
of the mountains known by the name of the 
French Rock, in the kingdom of Leon, and in the 
bishopric of Coria, on the confines of that of 
Salamanca. Th^ inhabitants are remarkable for 
their rustic manners." — John Collins, 

240 Curiosities in Proveibs 

He is fed wdl in Seville whom God loves. (Spanish). 

Spoken by the Spaniards in praise of their own 
town. The Italians say: "See Naples and then 

It is also said in praise of Seville: "He who has not 
seen Seville, has seen no wonder," and "He who 
is disorderly in his own town, will be so in Seville," 
as though disorder was unknown in Seville save 
when disorderly people from other places go 
there. The Spaniards sometimes say: "Prom 
Madrid to Heaven." 

He that hath to do with a Tuscan must not be blind. 

He that would England win, must with Ireland first begin. 


See proverb: "If that you will France win, then 
with Scotland first b^[in." 

"This proverb probably had its rise in the popular 
discontent felt in Ireland at the system of planta- 
tion which was carried into force there during; the 
reign of James I., but the saying itself (with a 
difference) is nearly a century older." 

W. Carew Haditt. 

"The enemies of England clearly perceived that 
Scotland would be an admirable base of opera- 
tions from which to attack the larger cotmtry. 
The proverb arose about the time of the Protector 
Somerset's expedition, when Scotland was weak 
and disturbed." — Andrew Cheviot. 

Proude, the historian, declared that the phrase was 
a Catholic proverb of the sixteenth century. 

"Get Ireland today and England may be thine to- 
morrow." (Old English Sajring). 

He waddles like an Annenian bride. (Osmanli). 

He who goes to Ceylon becomes a demon. (Bengalese). 

"When we strike mud we get smeared over." 
(Malabar). "Who lives with a blacksmith will 
at last go away with burnt clothes." (Afghan). 
"The fowl brought up with the pig will eat dirt. 
(Tamil). "One scabby goat infects the flock." 

Local and National Characteristics 241 

(Persian). "Who talks with the smith receives 
sparks.'* (Kurdish). " If you sit down with one 
who is squint-eyed in the evening you will become 
squint-eyed or cat-eyed." (Modem Greek). 

If a Teliigu man prosper, he is of no use to anyone. 


"Prosperity destroys fools and endangers the wise." 
"Prosperity is like a tender mother, but blind, 
who spoils her children.'* "Prosperity is the 
worst enemy men usually have." "Prosperity 
lets eo the bridle." "Prosperous men seldom 
mend their faults." (English). "Prosperity 
forgets father and mother.** (Spanish). "Pros- 
penty is the nurse of anger," (Latin). "They 
must be strong legs that can support prosperous 
days." (German). 

•If that you will France win, then with Scotland first begin. 

See proverb: "He that would England win must 
with Scotland first begin." 

"In reference to the intimate relations formerly 
subsisting between Scotland and France when 
the former was niled by its own sovereigns.*' 

W. Carew HazliU. 

"But there's a saying very old and true: 
* If that you will France win, 
Then with Scotland first begin.' 
For once the eagle England being in prey, 
To her unguarded nest the weasel Scot 
Comes sneaking and so sucks her princely eggs, 
Playing the mouse in absence of the cat. 
To tear and havoc more than she can eat." — 

Shakespeare: King Henry V. 

U the Scot likes a small pot he pays a sure penny. (Eng- 

An English testimonial to the honesty of Scotchmen. 

I hae a Scotch tongue in my head, if they speak Fse answer. 

"There is nae law now about reset of inter- 
communed persons as there was in the iU times 


242 Curiosities in Proverbs 

o* the last Stuarts — I trow I hae a Scotch tongue 
in my head — if they speak, I'se answer. 

Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy. 

U you ask what is the poetic expression of the spirit of 
Japan, it is the odour of the wHd cherry blossom in the 
glow of the rising sun. Qapanese). 

In settling an island, the first building erected by a Span- 
iard would be a church; by a Frenchman, a fort; by a 
Dutchman, a warehouse, and by an Englishman, an 
ale house. (English). 

In the mouth of an Aragonian no fish is bad. (Spanish). 

Because the province of Aragon, comprising Huesca, 
Saragossa, and Teruel, is not on the sea coast. 

Italian devotion and German fasting have no meaning. 


Italy to be bom in, France to live in, and Spain to die in. 


Lang beards heartless, painted hoods witless, gay coats 
graceless, mak' England thriftless. (Scotch). 

See Contemptuous Proverbs: " Lang beards, etc." 

This is a Scotch taunt at the English, which is said 
to have come into use during the wars between 
the two nations in the reign of Edward III. 

"The Scottes made many rhjrmes against the 
Englyshemen for the fonde disguised apparel by 
them at that time wome, amongest the whiche 
this was one, whiche was fastened upon the 
churche doores of Saint Peter towarde Straugate." 

John Stow. 

Let the Russian not die and he would not let thee live. 


Like Persian stuff, it comes out at both ends. (Osmanli). 

Like Persian cloth that has unravelled threads 
hanging out at both ends. 

Local and National Characteristics 243 

Like the people of Arabkyr, they pay each other compli- 
ments. (OsmanU). 

Like the people of Arabkyr who are fond of giving 
each other lugh-sounding complimentary titles. 

liake one sign of the cross to an Andalusian and three to a 
Genoese. (Spanish). 

One of many proverbs that show the jealousy that 
exists between the people of neighbouring coun- 
tries and separated sections of the same country. 
The saying is Castilian, and indicates a strong 
dislike for the Andalusians and positive distrust 
of the Genoese. 

Nipping and scarting's Scotch folks' wooing. (Scotch). 

"By biting and scratching dogs and cats come 
together." (English). 

No German remains where he is well off. (German). 

One Jew is equal in cheating to two Greeks, and one Greek 

to two Armenians. (Russian). 

The dislike that Russians have for Jews and Greeks, 
as well as for Armenians, is shown in the follow- 
ing proverbs: "When you baptize a Jew, keep 
him under water.'* " Bjr birth a landlord, by deeds 
a Jew." "A Christianized Jew and a reconciled 
foe are not to be trusted." "A Russian can be 
cheated only by a gypsy, a gypsy by a Jew, a Jew 
by a Greek, and a Greek by the devil." 

Another proverb evidently suggested by the last 
named is one coming from Poland which is as 
follows: "The German deceives the Pole, the 
French the German, a Spaniard the French, a 
Jew the Spaniard, the devil only the Jew." 

As an evidence of the dislike that the Russians have 
for the Poles, see note under proverb : "When God 
made the world. He sent to the Poles some reason 
and the feet of a gnat, but even this little was 
taken away by a woman." 

One, two, three : What a lot of fisher nannies I see ! (Eng- 

An English taunt at the fisherwomen of Aberdeen, 

244 Curiosities in Proveibs 

Scotsmen aye reckon frae an iU hour. (Scotch). 

"Scotsmen aye tak' their mark frae a mischieL" 

"Spoken when we say such a thing fell out when 
such an ill accident came to pass. A Scottish man 
solicited the Prince of Orange to be made an 
ensign, for he had been a sergeant ever since his 
Highness ran away from Groll." — James Kelly. 

Scratch a Russian and youll find a Tartar. (English). 

Some part of Kent hath health and no wealth; some 
w^th and no health; some both health and wealth* 

East Kent, the weald of Kent, and the middle of 
Kent, and sections near London. 

That you may know that the jealousy of an Arab is jealousy 
itself. (Persian). 

The Chinese have two e^es, the Franks one eye, but the 
Moors no eye. (Chinese). 

A writer in Notes and Queries says that similar 
comparisons frequently occur in Buddhist works 
of a date earlier than the beginning of the fifteenth 
century, when the above proverb was current in 
Samarcand. The two following examples are 
given by him: 

"This world has three kinds of men, viz.: eyeless, 
one-eyed, and two-eyed. The eyeless man never 
attends to the law; the one-eyed man does not 
fix his mind upon the law, howbdt that he fre- 
quently attends thereto; but the two-eyed man 
carefully hearkens unto the law and demeans 
himself according to it." — (a.d. 416). 

"Every seeker in philosophical meditation should 
have the two particular eyes: one, the ordinary 
eye with which to read letters; another, the in- 
tellectual eye with which to discriminate errors." 
— (A.D. 960). 

The difference between Arabs and Persians is the same as 
that between the date and its stone. (Arabian). 

Local and Nktional Characteristics 245 

The Emperor of Germany is the Sling of Kings; fhe King 
of Spain, Eling of Men; the Khig of France, Kuig 
of Asses; fhe King of England, King of Devils. 


The English love, the French make love. (English). 

The Englishman greets, the Irishman sleeps, but the 
Scotsman gangs till he gets it. (Scotch). 

"A pretended account of the behaviour of these 
three nations, when they want meat." — James 

The English rule, salary at an appointed time.'' (Marathi). 

The fellow with the hat earns the money, and the fellow 
with the Dhotee dissipates it. (Hindustani). 

The European is designated as "the fellow with the 
hat," and the Hindoo as *the fellow with the 
Dhotee/* the Dhotee being the cloth that is worn 
arotmd the waist, passing between the legs and 
fastened behind. 

The Frenchman sings well when his throat is moistened* 


The Frenchman's legs are thin, his soul little, he's fickle as 
the wind. (Russian). 

The German ma^ be a good fellow; but it's better to hang 
him. (Russian). 

The Germans carry their wit in their fingers. (English, 

The High Dutch pilgrims, ^rhea they beg, do sing; the 
Frenchmen whine and cry ; the Spaniards curse, swear, 
and blaspheme; the Iri^ and English steal. (Span- 

Francis Grose thinks that this proverb may be 
foimded on truth, as "pilgrims, gypsies, and other 
vagabonds" are not "scrupulous observers of the 
distinctions of property." 

246 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The inhabitants of Toledo are God's people, the water is 
their own, and we sell it to them. (Spanish). 

This is an old proverb used by the natives of Galicia, 
who were common carriers for the Spanish and 

The Irishman is never at peace except when he is fighting. 


"The Englishman is never content but when he is 
grumbling; the Irishman is never at peace but 
when he is fighting; the Scotsman is never at 
home but when he's abroad." (Scotch Saying). 

The Xrishman's wit is on his tongue, but the Gael is wise 
after the time. (Gaelic). 

"The Scotsman is aye wise ahint the hand." 
(Scotch). "The Manxman is never wise till the 
day ^ter the fair." (Manx). 

The Isle of Wight hath no monks, lawyers, or foxes. 


The Italians are wise before the act, the Germans in the 
act, the French after the act. (Italian, EngHsh). 

"The Irishman's wit is on his tongue, but the Gael is 
wise after the time." (Gaelic) . * * The Manxman 
is never wise till the day after the fair." (Manx). 
" The Turk's sense comes afterwards." (OsmanU). 

" I am sorry I have done injustice to my sovereign 
and your master. But I am, like a true Scotsman, 
wise behind hand — the mistake has happened — 
my supplication has been refused." 

Sir Walter Scott : Fortunes of Nigel. 

The Italianized Englishman is a devil incarnate. (Italian). 

The Italians cry, the Germans bawl, and the French sing. 


The Jew ruins himself with Passovers, the Moor with 
wedding feasts, and the Christian with lawsuits* 


. " The Jews spend at Easter, the Moors at marriages, 
and the Christians at suits." (English). 

Local and National Characteristics 247 

The Leinster man is sprightly, the Munster man boastful^ 
the Connaught man sweet-tongued, and the Ulster 
man impudent. (Irish). 

The negro eats till he has had enough, the Persian till he 
^ _ bursts. (Osmanli). 

The oppression of Turks rather than the justice of Arabs. 

"By the term Arabs are here meant the Bedouins, 
who, in the Mammelouk times, most grievously 
oppressed the open country of Egypt. The 
Bedouins themsdves often called their nation 
exclusively 'Arab,* a term they use more fre- 
quently than *Bedou*; and all other Arabians 
who are not of Arab tribes, they distinguish by 
the appellation of Hadhary or Fellah, which with 
them are terms of reproadi or contempt." 

/. L, Burckhardt, 

This proverb once current in Egypt is now obsolete. 

The Osmanli has no right nor left (Osmanli). 

That is, he is so shrewd that he is never taken off his 

The Osmanli hunts his hare in a cart (Osmanli). 

Though apparently slow and often behind hand, he 
is patient and persevering and succeeds in accom- 
plishing his purposes. 

The Osmanli's bread is on his knees. (Osmanli). 

He always has sufficient food without working for 
it, as it is supplied in abundance from those whom 
he has conquered. 

The prince with the Armenian is not distinguishable. 

When the prince associates with those whom he 
considers mean and low, he makes himself one 
with them. "You may know him by the com- 
pany he keeps." "Birds of a feather flock to- 
gether." (English). 

248 Curiosities in Proverbs 

There is no trust to be put in the Islanders. (Gaelic). 

The sa3ring probably came into use from the fact 
that Islanders being more dependent on the 
weather than others were often tmable to keep 
their engagements. 

The riches of Egypt are for the foreigners therein. (Arab). 

An allusion to the government of Egypt by for- 

The Russian is clever but always too late. (Russian). 

The Scots wear short patience and long daggers. (Scotch). 

The Tartar has no need of a guide. (Osmanli). 

"The Tartar sells his father." He has no con- 
science. (Osmanli). "The Tartar is bom a pig, 
therefore he does not eat pork." (Russian). "Is 
there a Tartar who is chasing you? " — addressed 
to one who is hasty in his actions. (Osmanli) . 

The three-tufted (The Mfirwftris), the cactus plant, and 
the red-faced (the £uropeans)9 cannot live without 
increasing. (Marathi). 

The Turk will (perhaps) be lettered, but he cannot be a 
man. (Osmanli). 

The Osmanli has a contempt for Turks as is indi- 
cated by the following common sayings: "What 
does the Turk know of Bayram, he ?can only) 
lap and drink whey." "They gave a oeyship to 
the Turk; and he first killed his father.*'^ "The 
Turk and the young lion, together with the 
donkey, took counsel from the calf, because he 
(tiie Turk) was bom of his (the calf's) mother. 

The Welshman keeps nothing till he has lost it. (English). 

This saying is said to have originated in the tenacity 
with which the Welsh held on to the castles that 
they had lost and recovered. 

They wha hae a gude Scotch tongue in thdr head are fit to 
gang ower the world. (Scotch). 

Local and National Characteristics^ 249 

Three falltires and a fire make a Scotsman's fortune. 


To a Turk, the inside of a town is a prison, (Osmanli). 

"The Tartar who lives in a city believes himself in 
prison." (Turkish). "A great city — ^a great 
solitude." (English). 

What is good for the Russian is death for the German. 


"What is food for some is black poison to others." 
(Latin). "One man's meat is another man's 
poison." (Scotch). 

When God made the world he sent to the Poles some 
reason, and tiie feet of a gnat, but even this little was 
taken away by a woman. (Russian) . 

The dislike that the Russians have for the Poles is 
further seen in the following sayings: "We are 
not in Poland, where the women are stronger than 
the men." "A Pole tells lies even in his old age." 

When the Frenchman sleeps the devil rocks him. (French) . 

Where Germans are, Italians like not to be. (Italian). 

Where the Turk's horse once treads, the grass never 
grows. (English). 

Tou may praise a Russian a thousand times, but his eyes 
will still be blue. (Turkish). 



A good wife and healtb are man's best wealth. 

"A good wife and good name hath no mate in goods 
nor fame." "The best and worst thing to man 
for his life, is good or ill choosing his good or ill 
wife." " Saith Solomon the Wise, * A good wife's 
a great prize.*" "A httle house well filled, a 
littie land well tilled, a little wife well willed, are 
great riches." "A good wife and health are 
man's best wealth." "A good yeoman makes a 
good woman." (English). 

The following excuse is sometimes quoted by men 
who have made a poor marriage: *'But wives 
must be had, be they good or bad." 

A man of gladness seldom falls into madness. 

A pullet in the pen is worth a hundred in the fen. 

Pen — Le., the mud or mire. 

This proverb is found under many forms in all 
parts of the world. It is often quoted: "A bird 
m the hand is worth two in the bush." 

As a man lives, so shall he die; as a tree falls, so shall it lie. 

Eccles., xi : 3. 

"He that lives wickedly can hardly die honestly." 
(English). "As the life is, so is the end." (Latm). 

Cheese, it is a peevish elf; it digests all things but itself. 

This English proverb, borrowed, from the Latin, is 
one of many sayings relating to cheese. Among 
them are the following: After cheese comes 
nothing." "Toasted cheese hath no master." 
"Make good cheese if you make little." "As 


Rhyming Proverbs 251 

demure as if butter would melt in his mouth, and 
yet cheese will not choke him." (English), 
Cheese and bread make the cheeks red." 
"Cheese is gold in the morning, silver at noon, 
lead at night." (German). "A windy year, an 
apple year; a rainy Easter, a cheese year." 
(French). "Cheese from the ewe, milk from the 
goat, butter from the cow." (Spanish). 

Among the precepts of the Salerno school of health 
was this one regarding the use of cheese: " Cheese 
is wholesome when it is given with a sparing 

Suffolk cheese has often been the subject of humour: 
"Hunger," it is said, "will breakthrough any- 
thing except Suffolk cheese." 

" Cheese such as men in Suffolk make, 
But wished it Stilton for his sake." 

Alexander Pope. 

The familiar English saying: "Every Jack must 
have his Jill," is rendered thus by the Creoles of 
Mauritius: "There is no cheese but that can find 
brown bread." 

"He was of old Pythagoras* opinion 
That green cheese was most wholesome with an 

Coarse meslin bread, and for his daily swig, 
Milk, buttermilk and water, why and whig." 

John Taylor, 

** If all the world were apple pie, 
And all the seas were ink. 
And all the trees were bread and cheese, 
My stars! What should we think ? " 

Bishop John SHU, 

The Welshman's love of cheese has become almost a 

"I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, 
Parson Hugh, the Welshman with my cheese, 
an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle, or a 
thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife 
with herself." — Shakespeare: Merry Wtves of 

It was customary in olden times to tell children in 
sport that the moon was made of cream or green 

252 Curiosities in Prwerbs 

" Have ye not heard tell, all covet, all lose? 
Ah, sir! I see ye may see no green cheese 
But your teeth must water — a good cockney coke! 
Though ye love not to bury the pig in the poke." 

John Heywaod, 

An old direction for making cheese has taken the 
form of a proverb, and it was said: "If you will 
have good cheese, and have old, you must turn 
him seven times before he is cold. 

Among the French who observed how little of the 
royaJ revenues entered the sovereign's coffers, it 
was common to say: "A king's cheese goes half 
away in parings." 

Children and chicken» must ever be picking. 

"Children pick up words as pigeons peas" — some- 
times the saying was lengthened bv adding: 
"And utter them again as God shall please." 
(English). "Women, priests, and poultry are 
never satisfied." (Italian). The hen lives by 
pickings as the lion by prey." (Danish). 

Bat at pleasure) drink by measure. 

This proverb was adopted from the French saying: 
"Eat bread at pleasure, drink wine by measure?' 

Find a sluggard without a sense, and find a hare without a 

Eveiy sluggard has his excuse, and every hare a 
hole in a wall or hedge through which he can 
escape his pursuers. 

"Take a hare without a muse 
And a knave without excuse, 
And hang them." — James HaweU. 

Four farthings and a thimble make a tailor's pocket jnsJe. 

He gives twice that gives in a trice. 

This proverb is found in nearly every language. 
"The best generosity is that which is quick." 
(Arabian). He gives a benefit twice who gives 
quickly to a poor man." (Latin). "He who 
gives quickly gives doubly," (German). "To 
give quickly is the best charity." (Hindoo). 

Rhyming Proverbs 253 

** To give quickly is a great virtue," (Hindustani) . 
*' He doubles his gift that gives in time,** (Scotch) . 

Efobi-de-ho79 neither man nor boy. 

That is, a boy that has almost reached the a^e of 
manhood, equivalent to the expression : " Neither 
hay nor grass." Sometimes the saying is rendered: 
** Hober-de-hoy half a man and h£uf a boy.** 

Thomas Tusser declared that the third age of 
seven years (that is the age between 15-21) was 
to be kept "under Sir Hobbard de Hoy.'* 

No satisfactory explanation of the meaning of hobi- 
de-hoy has yet been given. The claim that has 
been advanced — that it came from combining 
the old English word hob (a clown) and the 
Welsh word holden (a tomboy) — is fanciful. 

Children sometimes apply the name of hobi-de- 
hoy to a large top that has become unmanageable. 

I wot well how the world wags, he is most loved that has 
the most bags. 

"Money is the sinew of love as well as of war." 

Little boats must keep the shore, larger ships may venture 

Little knocks rive great blocks. 

Nothing is man's truly but that he comes by duly. 

She that's fair, and fair would be, must wash herself with 

Singers and ringers are little home bringers. 

Some go to law for the wagging of a straw. 

The Bier's as bad as the staler. 
Aler — i.e., conceal. 
" The receiver is as bad as the thief.*' (English). 

254 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The Caty the Rat, and Lovel the dog, rule all England 
under the hog. 

"A gentleman named CoUingboume wrote the 
following couplet respecting Catesbjr, Radcliff, 
and Lovel giving their advice to Richard III., 
whose crest, it will be remembered, was a white 

'The Cat, the Rat, and Lovel our dog, 
Rule all England under a hog.' 
He was executed on Tower Hill for writing the 
foregoing lines. After 'havinjg been hanged, it is 
recorded: *He was cut down immediately and his 
entrials were then extracted and thrown into the 
fire, and all this was so speedily performed that,' 
Stow sajrs, 'When the executioners pulled out his 
heart he spoke and said, "Jesus, Jesus. " ' " 

WiUiam Andrews, 

** Tongue breaketh bone and herself hath none," quoth 

The last two words are often omitted. 

"The tongue is boneless but it breaks bones." 
(Modem Greek, Turkish). "The tongue break- 
eth bone though itself have none." (French). 
"The tongue is boneless, yet in speaking is very 
wicked." (Marathi). "A boneless tongue may 
say anything." (Tamil). "The tongue has no 
bone: as it knows (resolves or chooses), it speaks; 
as it knows, it makes things turn." (Osmanli). 

Well begun is half done. 

This phrase is said to have come from the Greek 
saying that "The half is better than the whole." 
(Hesiod). Similar expressions are found in nearly 
bXL languages. "Half is more than the whole. 
(Latin). A good beginning is half a battle." 
"Well done, soon done." "Well done, twice 
done." (English). "A man prepared has half 
fought the battle." "To begin matters is to have 
them half finished." "To be lucky at the begin- 
ning is everything." (Spanish).^ "It is a small 
thing to run ; we must start at the''right moment. " 
" A happy b^inning is half the work. " (French). 
"Boldly attempted is half won." (German). 
"The hardest step is that over the threshold.'' 

Rhyming Proverbs 255 

"The difficult thing is to get foot in the stirrup." 

"A prouerbe I haue herde sale, 
That who that well his worke beginneth, 
The rather a good ende he winneth." — John Gawer. 

When the cat's away the mice will play. 

Pound not only in English but in German, French, 
Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and in many other 

"What wots the mouse, the cat's out of the house." 
"Well knows the mouse that the cat's out o' the 
house." "A blate cat maks a proud mouse." 
(Scotch). "Where the cat is not, the mice are 
awake." (French). "When the cat is not in the 
house, the mice dance." (Italian). "When the 
cat sleeps the mice play." "When the cat's away, 
it is jubilee with the mice." (Dutch). "The cat 
is absent, and the mice dance." (Modem Greek), 
"Were the cat at home, it were worse for you." 
(Welsh, Irish). "There is a thick mist, so sing 
as you please." ^ "Lamps out, the turban 
vanishes — that is, when the ruler dies or is 
deposed, the people commit crime. (Hindustani). 
"When the King is away, the Queen is free to act 
as she likes." (Behar). "One said to a wife: 
'O Poli, Poli, how long will you enjoy yourself ? * 
'Till my mother-in-law comes back from the 
Pariah quarter,' she replied." (Telugu). 

Whoso heweth over-high, the chips will fall in his eye. 

Women's jars breed men's wars. 

Ton must do as they do at the Hoc; what you can*t do in 
one day, you must do in two. 


Better rugh and sonsy than bare and dansy. 

Better be rough with plenty than genteel with 

Better skaith saved than mends made. 

Better not injure another than be compelled to 
make amends to him afterwards. 

256 Cmiostties in Proverbs 

Bilk win bum be it bum drawn, fMUich win sab if it were 
simmer sawn. 

Wood will bum though it be drawn through water, 
willow will dioop though it be planted in summer. 
Nature will always be true to itself. 

Bode a robe and wear it, bode a pock and bear it. 

Want a robe and wear it, want a bag and cany it. 

" Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." 
(Gal. vi : 7, 8). 

Condition makes, condition breaks. 

The conditions to a contract continue binding 
unless both parties agree to break them. 

Bat meat an's never fed ; wear daes an's never ded. 

Applied to people who continually complain of their 
food and clothing. 

Fair and honest John o* the Bank, has aye the ri|^t gutty 
by the shank. 

Used in compliment to one who has been fair and 
honest in some business transaction. 

"John o' the Bank was John Richardson, tenant of 
Blackadder Bank farm, in the Parish of Edrom, 
Berwickshire, at the end of the last (seventeenth) 
century. He was a witty, jovial fellow, fond of a 
dance. When striking a bargain he was wont to 
commend his own truthfulness and honesty by 
saying that 'he was fair and honest John o' the 
Bank.'" — George Henderson. 

God send us a' to dae wed, and then have hap to meet wi 

God grant that we may all do well and afterwards 
chance to meet salvation. 

Greed is envy's auldest brither; scraggy waxk they mal^ 

Hae you gear, or hae you nane, tine heart and a' is gane. 

Have you wealth or have you none; if you lose heart 
all is gone. 



Rhyming Proverbs 257 

He tliat hasna purse to fine, may hae flesh to pine. 

It will be nonsense to fine me/ said Andrew 
doubtily, 'that hasna a grey groat to pay a fine 
wi* — it's all taking thebreeksaff aHielandman!' 
'If ye hae nae purse to fine, ye hae flesh to pine/ 
replied the Bailie, 'and I will look weel to ye 
getting your deserts the tae way or the tither.* 

Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy. 

'Why, what would you do, my lord, with the poor 
young fellow?' said a noble Marquis present. 
The Lord Keeper has got all his estates — ^he has 
not a cross to bless himself with/ 
On which the ancient Lord Tumtippet replied: 
'If he hasna gear to fine, he has skins to pine, and 
that was our way before the Revolution/* 
Sir Walter Scott : The Bride of Lammertnoor. 

He that sits upon a stane is twice fain. 

He that sits upon a stone is first glad because of the 
rest that he obtains, and then glad to rise and go 
on his way because the stone is haxd. 

Hips and haws are very good meat, but bread and butter 
is better to eat. 

Hips — ue,, the fruit of the dogrose or wild brier. 
Haws — I.e., the fruit of the hawthorn. 

"Where thou shalt eat of the hips and haws, 
And the roots that are so sweet." 

Francis J, Child, 

House gaes mad when women gad. 

"The wife that expects to have a good name. 
Is always at home as if she were lame; 
And the maid that is honest, her chief est delight 
Is still to be doing from morning to night." 

Old English Rhyme. 

Hunger me and Fll harry thee. 

A servant's proverb. If you do not deal justly with 
me I will give you trouble with unfaithful work 
and dishonest practices. 

If he be nae a sauter, he's gude shoe clouter. 

Even though he may not be a good shoemaker, he 
may be a good cobbler. 


258 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If Slddaw hath a cap, Scruff el wots fuU wed o* Hiat. 

Skidaw and Scruff el are the names of two hills, one 
in Scotland and the other in England. So near 
are they to each other that when'a fog rests on one, 
rain is expected to fall on the other. 

"When Scotland, in the last century, felt its alle- 
giance to England doubtful, and when the French 
sent an expe^tion to the Land of Cakes, a local 
proverb was revived to show the identity of 
interests which affected both nations: 

'If Skidaw hath a cap, 

Scruffel wots full well of that.'" — Isaac Disraeli, 

li the laird slight the leddy, sae will the stable laddie. 
If ye be hasty, ye'll never be lasty. 

It's ower late to lout when the head's got a dout 

"It's nae time to stoop when the head's aff.'* 
(Scotch). "After death the doctor." "It's too 
late to spare when the bottom is bare." " It is too 
late to grieve when the chance has past." ** When 
tie horse is starved you bring him oats." "You 
come a day after the fair." "You plead after 
sentence is given." (English). "After the 
carriage is broken many offer themselves to show 
the road." (Turkish). "After the vintage, 
baskets." "To stop the hole after the mischief 
is done." (Spanish). " It is too late for the bird 
to scream when it is caught." (French). "It is too 
late to come with water when the house is burned 
down." (Spani^, Italian). "When the head is 
broken, the helmet is put on." (Italian). "It is 
too late to throw water on the cinders when the 
house is burned down." (Danish). "It is too 
late to cover the well when the child is drowned." 
(German, Danish). "When the calf is stolen, the 
peasant mends the stall." "When the wine 
runs to waste in the cellar, he mends the cask." 
(German). "The gladiator having entered the 
lists is seeking advice." (Latin). "When the 
calf is drowned, they cover the well." (Dutch), 
"When the com is eaten, the silly body builds the 
dyke." (Gaelic). 

Rhyming Proverbs 259 

There is a story among the Telugus that a certain 
man refused to give his son, who was in great 
need, a single cocoanut; but when the young man 
died of thirst he presented one to the corpse, 
whereupon the people formed this proverb: "Alas! 
My son, drink the water of all the cocoanuts," 
which came into general use as an equivalent to 
the saying, common to many lands, that "It's too 
late to Ic^k the stable door when the steed is 

I will put a nick in my stick. 

"A sort of tally generally used by bakers of the 
olden time in settling with their customers. Each 
family had its com nick-stick and for each loaf as 
ddivered a notch was made on the stick. 
Have you not seen a baker's maid 
Between two equal panniers sway'd? 
Her tallies useless lie and idle, 
If placed exactly in the middle." 

Sir Walter ScoU. 

Knowledge is most excellent to win the lands that's gone 
and spent. 

This proverb was probably taken from the old book 

"John Merton aught this book. 
God give grace therein to look; 
Not only to look, but to understand, 
For learning is better than houses and lands. 
For when houses and land all is spent 
Then learning is most excellent." 

Like draws aye to like, like an auld horse to a fell dyke. 

"'Like will to like,' as the scabbed squire said to 
the mangy knight, when they both met over a 
dish of buttered fish." (EngUsh). "'Like will be 
Hke,' as the devil said to the coal burner." (Ger- 

Mttckle crack, fills nae sack. 

"Talk does not cook rice." (Chinese). "Talk is 
but talk; but 'tis money that buys land." (Eng- 
lish). "Talking is easier than domg, and promis- 
ing than performing." (German). 

26o Curiosities in Proverbs 

Put your hand in the creel, tak' oot an adder or an eeL 

** In buying horses and taking a wife, shut your 
and commend yourself to God. ** (Italian). 

The aik, the ash, the ebn tree; they are hanging a' three. 

In olden times the mutilation of an oak, ash, or elm 
tree was a criminal offence punishable by death. 

True blue will never stahi, but dirty red wiU dye again. 

Twa gudes seldom meet— what's gude for the plant is iU 
for the peat. 

Waly, walyl bairas are bonny; ane^s enough and twa's 
ower mony. 

"Pity those who have them, pity more those who 
haven't." (Gaelic). 

When I did weel, I heard it never; when I did ill, I heard it 

This is a servant's complaint. 

When the man's fire and the wife's tow, the deil comes in 
and blaws't in lowe. 

When the pea's in bloom the mussel's toom. 

When the pea is in bloom the mussel is oat of season. 


A clean mouth and an honest hand will take a man fliroui^ 
any land. (German). 

A cucumber to the Roman was sent, he did not want it 
because it was bent. (Bulgarian). 

A frog never bites, a Brahman never fights. (Telugu). 
A tatmt applied to a coward. 

After honour and state follow envy and hate. (Dutch). 

AH pretty maids, or small or plump, are poisonous pests ; an 
enemy kills by hiding, these by smfles and jests. 

Shyming Proverbs 261 

A plaster house, a horse at grass, a friend in words, are all 
mere ^ss. (Dutch). 

A woman's in pain, a woman's in woe. a woman is ill when 
she l&es to be so. (Italian). 

"Woman complains, woman mourns, woman is ill, 
when she chooses." "Women laugh when they 
can and weep when they will." (English, 
French). "A woman's tears and a dog's limping 
are not real." (Spanish). "A woman's tears are 
a fountain of craft." (Italian). "The laughter, 
the tears, and the song of a woman are equally 
deceptive." (Latin, English). "Who is the man 
that was never fooled by a woman?" (German). 
"Deceit, weeping, spinning, God hath give to 
women kindly, while they may live." "When a 
handsome woman laughs, you may be sure her 
purse weeps." (English). "Of women, Miris, 
the parrot, and the crow, the minds of these four 
you cannot know." (Assamese). 

Beauty will sit and weep, fortune will sit and eat (Tamil). 

Better the child cry than the mother sigh. (Danish). 

Better where birds sing than where irons ring. (Dutch). 

By going gains the mill, and not by standing still. (Portu- 
guese, Spanish). 

"The mill gets by going." (English). 

Early to rise and late to bed, lifts again the debtor's head. 


Long working hours may enable a debtor to increase 
his income for a time and so put him in a position 
to pay his debts, but they may also weaken his 
physical or mental powers so that he cannot 
earn the money that is required to meet his 
obligations. "Overdoing is doing nothing to the 
purpose." "All work and no play makes Jack a 
dull boy." (English). " He who does too much 
often does little." (Italian). "He that exceeds 
the commission must answer for it at his own 
cost." (German). 

262 Cunosities in Proveibs 

See Wit and Htunour in Proverbs: "Eaily rising 
is the fixst thing that puts a man to the door." 

Fresh poik asd new wine kill a man before his time. 


Sometimes rendered: "Fresh pork and new wine 
send a Christian to the churchyard." 

Good is wisdom to possess, and better still is devemess. 


Herring in the land, the doctor at a stand. (Dutch). 

He that will not ^riien he'may, ^dien he will shall have nay. 


Found in many forms: 
" Hyt ys sayd al day, for thys skyl, 
' He that wyl nat whan he may. 
He shall nat, when he wyL' — Roheri Mannyng. 

He that would jest must take a jest, dse to let it alone 
were best (Dutch). 

He irho fain would many, in choice should not tarry. 


He who forces love where none is found, remains a fool 
the whole year round. (German). 

He who is always drinking and stufSng, will in time become 
a ragamuffin. (German). 

"The full cup makes an empty purse, and a fat dish 
makes a lean bag. He that draws the wine out 
of the vessel, draws thy money out of thy hand. 
He that puts the meat into the dish, puts thy 
money into his own pocket." — Michael Jermin, 

This proverb may have been su^ested by Solo- 
mon's warning found in Prov. zxiii : 20, 2i. 

He who is bom to misfortune stumbles as he goes, and 
tiioug^ he fall on his back wQl fracture his nose. 


He who would the daughter win, with the mother must 
begin. (German, English). 

Rhjrming Proverbs 263 

Idleness is hunger's mother and of theft it is fuU brother. 


"A sluggard lies not still more lazily than poverty 
travelleth hard and hasteth to come tmto him; he 
sleepeth not more securely than want speedily 
arms itself to surprise and spoil him; and then in 
derision says, Sleep on, when there is nothing to 
sleep upon." 
Michael Jermin, Commenting on Prov. vi : 1 1 , 

" Slothfulness is but a waking sleep and sleep is but 
a drowsy slothfulness; and, as sleep is the bed of 
dothfulness, so slothfulness is the bed of sleep. 
It is natural for sleep to cause slothfulness and it 
is natural for slothfulness to cause sleep. . . . 
Not only the slothful soul which doeth nothing 
(shall suffer htmger), but the soul which, though 
the body be idle, yet worketh with his wit how to 
cozen, how to cheat, for such working is worse 
than idleness, even that soul, though he get never 
so much, yet shall not be filled, £all not be fed 
with it, but still ^all be in misery, still shall suffer 

Michael Jermin, (Commenting on Prov., xix : 16. 

U loaves of bread came,down as haHy the gypsies' hunger 
would not falL (Bulgarian). 

U you pay what you owe, what you're worth youll know. 

U you want to be dead, wash your head and go to bed. 


In the garden more grows than the garden shows* (Span- 

Make a bond with Satan too, while the bridge is under you. 

Neither above nor below the ground, can Paradise or hell 
be found. (Bulgarian). 

She is not his mate but his fate. (Tdugu). 

Someone died, someone cried. (Tamil). 

264 Curiosities in Proveibs 

That from your life the sotuness may depart, y<m must bave 
sweetness come into your heart (Bulgarian). 

The oil of the cow without and within, if tliat wonH heal 
the Gael, there's no cure for him* (Gaelic). 

The oil of the cx>w is understood to include not only 
neatVfoot <nl, but milk, cream, and butter. 

What will last a twelvemonth roimd, to that my utmost 
wish I bound. (Bengalese). 

Used to admonish those who impatiently desire 
immediate possession of that which comes after 
long effort. 

Ton may laugh if you're a slave, you are dumb wilhin the 
grave. (Bulgarian). 


A bad xnan, gold, a drum, a bad woman, a bad horse, 
stalks of sugar cane, sesamur seed, and low people 
should be beaten to improve their qualities. (Sansknt). 

A blow in the eye, a blow on the knee, a blow on the elbow 
— ^Uie three hardest blows to bear. (Gaelic). 

A buffalo delights in mud, a duck in a pond, a woman 
delists in a husband, a priest in the law. (Burmese). 

A country-side smithy, a parish mill, and a publichouse — 
the three best places for news. (Gaelic). 

A face shaped like the petals of the lotus, a voice as cool 
(pleasing) as sandal, a heart like a pair of scissors, 
and excessive himiility — ^these are the signs of a 
rogue. (Sanskrit). 

A father in debt is an enemy; a mother of bad conduct is 
an enemy; a beautiful wife is an enemy; an unlearned 
son is an enemy. (Sanskrit). 

In the first and second instance the enmity is un- 
derstood to be toward a son, in the third toward 
a husbaad, and in the fourth toward a parent. 

A fence lasts three years, a dog lasts three fences, a house 
lasts three dogs, and a man three horses. (German). 

A fly, the wind, a harlot, a beggar, a rat, the head of the 
village, and the village accountant — ^these seven are 
annoying to others. (Sanskrit). 

A fool is honoured in his own house; a proprietor is hon- 
oured in his own village; a king is honoured in his 
own country; a learned man is honoured everywhere. 



266 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A foul-motttiied man, a man without employmenty a low 
fellow, a re¥engeful man — these four are base from 
their evil deeds ; the base bom are better. (Sanskrit) . 

A garden without water, a house without a roof, a wife 
without love, and a careless husband. (Spamsh). 

Four things that are considered undesirable. 

A generous man is nigh unto God, nigh unto men, nigh 
unto Paradise, far from hell. (Arabian). 

A girl, a vineyard, an orchard, and a bean field are hard 
to watch. (Portuguese). 

A glaring sunny morning, a woman that talks Latin, and 
a cldld reared on wine never come to a good end* 


A heavy-handed joiner, a trembling-handed smith, and 
a soft-hearted leech do not suit. (Gaelic). 

"A good surgeon must have an eagle's eye, a lady's 
hajid, and a lion's heart." (English). 

A hundred bakers, a hundred millers, and a hundred 
tailors are three hundred thieves. (Dutch). 

The Spanish rendering of this proverb substitutes 
weavers for tailors. 

A king is not satisfied with his wealth, a wise man with 
well uttered discourse, the eye in seeing a lover, and 
the sea with its water. (Burmese). 

A king perceives by his ears, the learned by their intellect 
a beast by scent, and fools by the past. (Sanskrit). 

A little dog, a cow with homS| and a short man are gene- 
rally proud. (Danish). 

A man of thirty years of age is like a lion, a man forty 
years old is like a torn, worn mat, and a man sixty 
years of age is a fool. (Kashmiri). 

"At twenty years of age the will rules, at thirty 
years of age the intellect rules, and at forty years 
of age the judgment rules." — Bathasar Gracian, 

A Spamsh proverb taken from the sayings of Grar 

Grouping Proverbs 267 

dan IS as follows: "At twenty years of age one 
is a peacock; at thirty years of age, a lion; at forty 
years of age, a camd; at fifty years of age, a 
snake; at sixty years of age, a dog; at seventy 
years of age, an ape; and at eighty years of age, 

A nail secures the horse-shoe, the shoe the horse, the 
horse the man, the man the castle, and the castle the 
whole land. (German). 

"For want of a nail the shoe is lost; for want of a 
shoe the horse is lost; for want of a horse the 
rider is lost." (English). "For want of a nail 
the shoe is lost," (Spanish). 

A man should avoid these six evils: lust, anger, avarice^ 
pleasure, pride, and rashness, for free of these he 
may be happy. (Sanskrit). 

A man should not reside in a place wherein these five 
things are to be found: wealthy inhabitants, Brahmans 
learned in the Vedas, a Rajah, a river, and in the 
filth place, a physician. (Sanskrit). 

Brahmans are of the highest sacerdotal class, the 
Vedas are the sacred books of the people. Rajah 
is a title that was given by Maha-Rajah to the 
chiefs of the Kshetree (military tribe) as a reward 
of merit before the Mussulman conquest. 

A mother curses not her son, the earth suffers no harm, 
a good man does no injury, God destroys not His 
creation. (Sanskrit). 

An elephant killeth even by touching, a serpent even by 
smelling, a king even by ruling, and a wicked man 
by laug^bing at one. (Sanskrit). 

An old man continues to be young in two things — ^love of 
money and love of Ufe. (Arabian). 

A pebble in my shoe, a flea in my sleeve, a husk in my 
teeth, and my sweetheart leaving me. (Gaelic). 

Four things that are hard to endure. 

A plaster house, a horse at grass, a friend in words — are all 
mere glass. (Dutch). 

268 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A niah man, a akin of good wine, and a glaas Teaael do 
not last long. (Portuguese). 

A red-haired, black-eyed woman; a dun, fiery-eyed dog; 
a black-haired, red-bearded man — ^the three imlndo- 
est to meet* (Gaelic). 

A son like his father, a son greater than his father, and a 
son less than his father. (Kashmiri). 

The three kinds of sons found not only in Kashmir 
but in every part of the world. 

A swan is out of place among cows, a lion among bulls, 
a horse in the midst of asses, and a wise man among 
fools. (Burmese). 

A swarthy man is bold, a fair man is impertinent, a brown 
man is ringlet-4iaired, and a red-haired man is 
scornful. (Gaelic). 

That is, when the feud is over. 

A true man is he who remembers his friend when he is 
absent, when he is in distress, and when he dies. 


At ten years, a wonder child; at fifteen, a talented youth; 
at twen^, a common man. (Japanese). 

At the first cup, man drinks wine; at the second, wine 
drinks wine; at the third, wine drinks man* (Japan- 

A wicked wife, a false friend, a servant witii pride, living 
in a house with a snake, are death wimout doubt. 


Four things that cause death. 

A woman's beauty is her dress and jewels; tiie river de- 
rives beauty from its waves; the willow sets beauty 
from lopping; and a man's beauty is his wealth. 


The river to which reference is made is Jhdtmi, 
called by the Hindoo priests Vedasta. On its 
banks Alexander the Great defeated Porus, B.C. 
326. The willow is the white wHlow that is 
improved by lopping off the upper branches. 

Grouping Proverbs 269 

A young man without work, a mother dying and leaving a 
baby, the wife of an old man dying — ^£ese three are 
terrible misfortunes. (Kashmiri). 

Be as strong as a leopard, light as an eagle, quick as a goat, 
and brave as a lion, to do the will of thy Heavenly 
Father. (Hebrew from the Talmud). 

Beware of the hoof of the horse, the horn of the bull, and 
the smile of the Saxon. (Irish). 

Bodies are transitoiy, riches are not lasting, death is al- 
ways at hand, virtue should be practicaL (San^rit). 

By the crime of not giving alms, (a man) becomes poor; 
by the defect of poverty, he commits sin; by sin, he 
certainly goes to hell; again (he becomes) poor, again 
(he becomes) a sinner. (Sanskrit). 

Charity, good behaviour, amiable speech, unselfishness 
— ^tiiese by the chief sage have been declared the 
elements of popularity. (Burmese). 

Content lies in three things: Satisfied with what is given, 
no reliance on what is in man's hands, acquiescence 
in God's decrees. (Arabian). 

"Gnaw the bone which is fallen to thy lot." "Let 
us thank God and be content with what we 
have." (English). "Let everyone be content 
with what God has given him." (Portuguese). 
"Nothing will content him who is not content 
with little." (Greek). "Who is rich? He who 
is content with what he has." (Hebrew). 

Covetousness has for its mother unlawful desire, for its 
daughter injustice, for its companion violence. 

(Arabian) i 

Day and night, evening and morning, winter and spring, 
come again and again; time sports, life goes, but 
nevertheless the chain of desire loosens not. (San- 

Drinking, women, hunting, gaming, fondness for dress, 
harshness of speech, and severity are great blemishes 
in a prince, (^nskrit). 

270 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Do not ascend to the hills to net birds, do not go down to 
tiie water to poison fish and shrimps, do not kill the 
ploughing oz, do not cast away lettered (written) paper. 


The Chinese think that birds should not be en- 
snared but shot. They are also particular not 
to tread on any piece of written paper that may 
chance to he on the floor or ground. 

Eating while seated makes one stout, eating standing 
increases strength, walking augments life, running 
wards off sickness. (Burmese). 

Eggs of an hour, fish of ten, bread of a day, wine of a year, 
a woman of fifteen, and a friend of thirty. (English). 

Eight different things to enjoy in abundance, but -in 
moderation good — ^labour, sdeep, riches, journeying, 
love, warm water, bleeding and wine. (Hebrew). 

First the turnip, then a sheep, next a cow, and then the 
gallows. (Dutch). 

For four things there is no recall: The spoken word, the 
arrow sped from the bow, the march of fate, and time 
that is past. (Arabian). 

"The stream that has passed down does not come 
back to its former channel." (Persian). 

Fortitude in adversity and moderation in prosperity; elo- 
quence in the senate and courage in the field; great 
glory in renown and labour in study; are the natural 
perfections of great minds. (Sanskrit). 

Fortune lost, nothing lost; courage lost, much lost; honour 
lost, more lost; soul lost, all lost. (Dutch). 

Fortune rests on the tip of the tongue; friends and relatives 
rest on the tip of the tongue; stiff ering imprisonment 
rests on the tip of the tongue; death rests on the tip 
of the tongue. (Sanskrit). 

Four things everyone has more than he knows: sins, 
debts, years, and foes. (Persian). 

"Sins and debts are aye mair than we think." 

Grouping Proverbs 271 

Four things put a man beside himself: a woman, tobacco, 
cards, and wine. (Spanish). 

From four things God preserve us: a painted woman, a 
conceited valet, salt beef without mustard, and a little 
late dinner. (Assamese). 

Go a mile to see a sick man, go two miles to make peace 
between two men, and go three miles to call on a 
friend. (Arabian). 

"Make your visit short, especially to the sick." 

Good done to an old man, good to a worthless man, good to 
a little child — ^three goods thrown away. (Gaelic). 

Good men seek honour, middling men seek wealth and 
honour, base men seek wealth; honour itself is 
wealtii to great men. (Sanskrit). 

Gratitude takes three forms: a feeling in the heart, an 
expression in words, and a giving in return. (Arabian). 

He should speak kindly without meanness; he should be 
valiant without boasting; he should be generous 
shedding his boun^ into the dish of the worthy; he 
should be resolute but not harsh. (Sanskrit). 

He that is not gallant at twenty, strong at thirty, rich at 
forty, or experienced at f^ will never be gallant 
strong, rich, or prudent* (Spanish). 

He who brought you forth; he who invested you with the 
sacred tbxead; he from whom you received instruc- 
tion; the giver of food; he who saved you from danger 
— ^these five are to be remembered as fathers. (San- 

He who dies~not In his twenty-third year, drowns not in 
his twenty-fotulh, and is not slain in his twenty-fifth, 
may boast of good days. (Dutch). 

He who is wise and consults others is a whole man, he 
who has a wise opinion of his own and seeks no 
counsel from others is half a man, and he who has no 
opinion of his own and seeks no advice is no man at 
aiL (Arabian). 

2J2 Curiosities in Proverbs 

How canst thou escape sin? Think of three things: 
Whence thou comest, whither thou goest, and before 
whom thou must appear. (Hebrew). 

If a man commit these three things, they will rise against 
him in judgment and punishment — aggressioni per- 
fidy, and deceit* (Arabian). 

See Graceful Proverbs: "The image of friend- 
ship is truth." 

Notwithstanding the strong condemnation that 
the Arabs pronounce in this proverb on perfidious 
and deceitful men, they have two other axioms 
that indicate some question as to the excellence 
of honour and truth at all times. Thev some- 
times say: " In deceiving your neighbour be more 
wary than when he is tr)dne to deceive you," 
and "To be true to the perfimous is perfidy and 
to deceive the deceitful is lawful." 

If the prince and minister be not sincere, the nation will 
not be well ordered: if the father and son be not sin- 
cere, the family will not be harmonious : if the elder 
and younger brothers be not sincere, the feeling of 
affection will not be close; if friends be not sincere, 
intercourse will be distant* (Chinese). 

If yott are ignorant, inquire; if you stray, return; if yon 
do wrong, repent; and if you are angry, restrain 
yourself* (Arabian). 

If your neighbour has made a pilgrimage to Mecca once^ 
watch him; if twice, avoid his society; if three times, 
move into another street. (Arabian). 

"The Moslems are afraid of anyone who is espe- 
cially sanctimonious and given to pmyer — ^their 
praters, I mean. . . . Certainly no one ac- 
quainted with the people will fed his confidence 
in an individual increased by the fact that he is 
particularly devout." — W, m. Thompson in The 
Land and the Book. 

All nations condemn hypocrisy in their proverbs. 
" A devoted face and a cat's daws." " The cross 
on his breast and the devil on his acts." "To 
fawn with the tail and bite with the mouth." 
(Spanish). "The heron is a saint as long as the 

Grouping Proverbs 273 

fish is not in sight." "The female devotee pre- 
tends not to eat fish but there are three on her 
leaf." "The attachment of the insincere, a 
razor's blade." "A hypocrite, a makhala fruit; 
beautiful outside, bitter within; a tiger in a tulsi 
grove; outside smooth and painted, inside only- 
straw." (Bengalese). "A honeyed tongue with 
a heart of gall. (French). "A terrible ascetic, 
an atrocious thief." "A hypocrite is worse than 
a demon." "He tells lies by thousands and 
builds a temple." (Tamil). "A mouth that 
prays, a hand that kills." (Arabian). "All 
saint without, all devil within." "A hypocrite 
pays tribute to God only that he may impose on 
men." "God in his tongue and the devil in his 
heart." "He has one face to God and another 
to the devil." "Hypocritical piety is double 
iniquity." "Never carry two faces under one 
hood." "To cry with one eye and laugh with 
the other." (English). "Better the worid 
should know you as a sinner than God know you 
as a hypocnte." (Danish). "Beware of the 
man of two faces." " He has the Bible on his lips 
but not in his heart." (Dutch). "He shows 
honey, he mixes poison." "Externally a sheep, 
internally a wolf." "The hypocrite has the look 
of an archbishop and the heart of a miller." 
(Modem Greek). "Rosary in hand, the devil 
at heart." (Portuguese). "The mouth of Bud- 
dha, the heart of a snake" "Water under the 
grass." (Chinese). " To clothe a wolf in priest's 
dothing." Qapanese). "Under his arms a 
Koran, he casts his eyes on a bullock." (Af- 
ghan). "He sits like a tiger withdrawing his 
daws." "To plant sugar-cane on the Ups." 
(Malayan). "At home a spider, abroad a tiger." 
(Tdugu). "He lacks with his hind feet, licks 
with his tongue." (Russian). "A face shaped 
like the petals of the lotus; a voice as cool as 
sandal; a heart like a pair of scissors, and exces- 
sive humility — these are the signs of a rogue." 

If you wish a good day, shave yourself; a good month, 
kill a pig, a good year, marry; and one always good, 
become a deigyman. (Spanish). 


274 Curiosities in Proverbs 

If you wish to know the character of the prince, look at 
his ministers; if you wish to understand the man, look 
at his friends; if you wish to know the father, observe 
his son. (Chinese). 

"Birds of a feather flock together." "Tell me 
with whom thou goest and I'll tell thee what thou 
doest." "You may know him by the company 
he keeps." "Who keeps company with the 
wolf will learn to howl." (English). "Near 
vermilion one gets stained pink, near ink one 
gets stained black." "Near putrid fish you'll 
stink, near the epidendrum you'll be fragrant.'* 

In a good man, wrath (lasts) for a moment; in a middle 
man, for two hours ; in a base man, for a day and night; 
in a great sinner, until death. (Sanskrit). 

Infidelity, violence, deceit, envy, extreme avaridousness, 
a total want of good qualities, with impurity, are the 
innate faults of womankind. (Sanskrit). 

See also Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "Grace 
is deceitful and beauty is vain," etc. 

There are many proverbs that sneer at women, but 
none are more severe and unjust than this. It 
may be said, however, that the expression reflects 
the opinion and teaching of an ^scetic who has 
taken upon himself the vow of perpetual celibacy, 
and not the common belief of the people. 

"He who blackens others does not whiten himself." 

In infancy, the father should guard her; in youth, her hus- 
band should gtiard her; and in old age her children 
should guard her; for at no time is a woman properly 
to be trusted with liberty. (Sanskrit). 

Iron breaks stone, fire melts iron, water extinguishes fire, 
the clouds consume water, the storm dispels clouds, 
man withstands the storm, fear conquers man, wine 
banishes fear, sleep overcomes wine, and death is 
.tiie master of sleep; but '* Charity," says Solomon, 
"saves even from death." (Hebrew). 

It is a shame to a man to be refused by a woman, left by 
a boat, or thrown by a mare. (Gaelic). 

Grouping Proverbs 275 

Keep yourself from the anger of a great man, from the 
tumult of a mob, from fools in a narrow way, from a 
man that is marked, from a widow who has been 
twice married, from wind that comes in at a hole, 
and from a reconciled enemy. (Spanish). 

Kindred without friends, friends without power, power 
without will, will without effect, effect without profit, 
profit without virtue, is not worth a rush. (French). 

Learning comes by degrees, wealth little by little, climb- 
ing a mountain is done gradually, love comes by 
degrees, anger little by little — ^these five little by little. 


Love, a cough, smoke, and money cannot long be hid. 

(French, German, Italian). 

Sometimes the proverb is rendered: ** Love, a cough, 
smoke, and money are hard to hide." 

See proverb, "There are three things never hidden: 
love, a mountain, and one riding on a camel." 

"Love and a cough cannot be hid." "Nature 
and love cannot be hid." "Love and a sneeze 
cannot be hid." "Love and poverty are hard 
to hide." (English). " Love, a cough, the itch, 
and the stomach cannot be hid." (Venetian). 
"Love, a cough, and the itch cannot be hid." 
(French, Italian). "Love and smoke cannot be 
hid." "Love, a cough, and gall cannot be hid." 
(French). "Love and light winna hide." 
(Scotch). "True love endures no concealment." 
(Spanish). "Love and a cough will not let 
themselves be hidden." (German). 

**Love and murder will out." — William Congreve. 

"Love and a red rose can't be hid." — Thomas 

Marriage is of three kinds — ^marriage for beauty implying 
love, marriage for convenience, and marriage for 
money. (Arabian). 

Nectar should be taken even out of poison, a well spoken 
word should be received even from a youth, rectitude 
should be acknowledged even in an enemy, and gold 
should be taken out of filth. (Sanskrit). 

276 Curiosities in Proverbs 

No house wil]iout a moii8e» no ham without cofs, so rose 
without a tfaonu (German). 

No man is entitled to consideration unless he has these 
three things, or at least one of them: The fear of God 
to restrain him from evil, forbearance with wicked 
men, and a good nature toward aU. (Arabian). 

One lump of clay (is moulded) into vessels of many forms, 
one of gold (is made) into ornaments of many shapes, 
cow-mUk is one though yi^ded by many cows; so 
the one supreme soul presides in many bodies. 


One should know a horse by its speed, an ox by its burden, 
a cow by milking, and a wise man by his i^eedu 


Patience is the key to joy, penitence to pardon, modesty 
to tranquillity. (Arabian). 

Physic for healing, soup for nourishment, and sake for 
happy living. (Japanese). 

Sake, an alcoholic beverage in common use by 
the Japanese, made by the fermentation of rice. 

Self-acquired property is good, that acquired by a father 
is middlii^, a brother's property is low, a woman's 
property is the lowest of tiie low. (Sanskrit). 

She is a wife who is clever in the house, she is a wife who 
is fruitful in children, she is a wife who is the soul 
of her husband, she is a wife who is obedient to her 
husband. (Sanskrit). 

Many Sanskrit proverbs indicate that the people 
of India hold the ancient belief that women are 
bom to serve men. This particular saying has 
been repeated for many generations b^g first 
spoken before the Christis^ era. 

She things have no business in the world: A fighting priest, 
a coward knight, a covetous judge, a stiiSdng barber, 
a soft-hearted mother, and an itchy barber. (French) . 

"A wooden elephant, an antelope of leather, and 
a Brahman without knowledge — these three 
things only bear a name." — Manu. 

Grouping Proverbs 277 

Sleep in the morning, wine at noon, trifling witii children, 
and spending time with the ignorant shorten a man's 
existence. (Hebrew). 

Sorrow for a father six months, sorrow for a mother a 
year, sorrow for a wife until a second wife, sorrow for 
a son for ever. (Sanskrit). 

The reference is to sorrow occasioned by death. 

The advantages of marriage are purity of life, children, 
pleasures of home, and the happiness of exertion for 
the comfort of wife and children. (Arabian). 

The affairs of a king are not perfected except by four 
things: counsel, money, auxiliaries, and secrecy. 


The Arabs also say that husbandry requires four 
things: soil, seed, water, and sun. 

The beginning of a ship is a board; of a kiln, a stone; of 
a king's reign, salutation; and of the beginning of 
health, is sleep. (Irish). 

The best preacher Is the heart, the best teacher is time, 
the best book is the world, the best friend is God. 


The best qualities for a minister (of state) are justice, 
thorough investigation^ wise determination, firmness, 
and secrecy. (Sansknt). 

The brown rain at the fall of the leaf, the black rain at 
the springing of roots, and the grey rain of May — 
the three worst waters. (Gaelic). 

The enemy who is either avaricious, subject to passion, 
unruly, treacherous, violent, fearful, unsteady, or a 
fool, is easily to be defeated, we are told. (Sanskrit). 

The foot should be placed (on a spot) seen to be clean, 
water should be drunk after having been strained 
through a cloth, a word should be spoken with truth, 
(a business) should be done with consideration* 


278 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The gravest fish is an oyster; the gravest bird's an ool; 
&e gravest beast's an ass; an' the gravest man's a 
fool. (Scotch). 

The jewel of the necklace, the canopy of the throne, the 
vanguard of the army, the point in discourse, the 
best verse of the poem. (Arabian). 

A proverb used by modem Egyptians, current at 
Cairo. Burckhardt says that the jewel of the 
necklace, literally the eye of the necklace, *4s the 
precious stone, or medallion, or gold coin, which 
hangs upon the breast from the middle of a 
woman's necklace; the vanguard of the army is 
composed of the bravest soldiers; the point in 
discourse is the most material part of a question 
under discussion; and the best verse of the poem 
is the verse in which the poet has exerted his 
utmost powers. It is the main verse usually 
found toward the end of the composition, called 

The king must answer for his country's sin; the priest, for 
the king's sin; the husband, for his wife's sin; and 
the Guru, for the disciple's sin. (Sanskrit). 

A Guru is a teacher, particularly a religious teacher. 
It is also said "The defects even of a Guru should 
be told." 

The man is strange who, seeking a lost animal, suffers his 
own soul to be lost; who, ignorant of himself, seems 
to understand God; who doubts the existence of 
God when he sees His creatures. (Arabian). 

"The legs of those who require proofs of God's 
existence are made of wood." (Persian). "We 
cannot see our own forehead, our ears, or our 
backs; neither can we know the hairs of our head; 
if a man knows not himself how should he know 
the Deity?" (Telugu). "A man knowing law, 
but without God's fear, is a man having the key 
of the inner but not of the outer chamber. * 
(From the Talmud — Hebrew). "Sitting in a 
well and staring at the stars." (Chinese). 
"The frog in the well sees nothing of the high 
seas. ' ' (Japanese) . ' ' Every little blade of grass 
declareth the presence of God." (Latin). 

Grouping Proverbs 279 

The man with a cataract in his eye is one in a hundred, 
the one-eyed is one in a thousand, the squint-eyed is 
one in a lakh and twenty-five thousand; hut the 
sguint-eyed man proclaims to all the world — ** Beware 
of the grey-eyed man." (Behar). 

One in a hundred, one in a thousand, etc., is intended 
to indicate the proportion of rascals in each class. 
The proverb is applied to those who excuse their 
own misdeeds by declaring others are worse 
than themselves. 

The merit of a house does not consist in its lofty walls, 
but in its not leaking; the goodness of clothes does 
not consist in flowering and network, but in their 
being warm; eating and drinking does not consist 
in the consumption of costly articles of food, but in 
satisfying the appetite: the excellence of a wife does 
not consist in beauty, out in virtue. (Chinese). 

The most worthless things on earth are these four: Rain 
on a barren soil, a lamp in sunshine, a beautiful wo- 
man given in marriage to a blind man, and a good deed 
to one who is tmgrateful. (Arabian). 

The poison of a scorpion is in his tail; the j^oison of a fly 
is in his head; me poison of a serpent is in his fang; 
the poison of a bad man is in his whole body* (San- 

The quality of a friend should be sincerity, liberality, 
bravery, constancy in joy and sorrow, rectitude, 
attachment, veracity. (Sanskrit). 

There are four points in a good character from which all 
good traits take their origin — prudence, courage, 
continence, and justice. (Arabian). 

There are six faults which a man ought to avoid: The desire 
of riches, drowsiness, sloth, idleness, tediousness, 
fear, and anger. (Sanskrit). 

There are three misfortunes in life: In youth to lose a 
father; in middle age, the death of a wife; in old age^ 
to have no children. (Japanese). 

28o Curiosities in Proverbs 

There are three things never hidden: Love, a mountain, 
and one riding on a camel. (ArabiasX- 

See proverb: "Love, a cough, smoke, and money 
cannot long be hid." 

"Three things are no disgrace to a man: To serve 
his quest, to serve his horse, and to serve his own 
house." "Three things are known only in the 
following ways — a hero in war, a friend m neces- 
sity, and a wise man in danger." "Three things 
contribute to a long life: A large house, an obe- 
dient wife, and a swift horse." "Three things 
give one a fever: A loitering messenger, a lamp 
that will not give light, and a waiting dinner for 
a guest who does not come. ' ' (Arabian) . * * There 
are three things that don't bear nursing: An old 
woman, a hen, and a sheep." "There are three 
without rule: A mule, a pig, and a woman." 
"The three most pleasant things: A cat's kittens, 
a goat's kid, and a young woman." (Irish). 
"Avoid three things: A snake, a smooth-tongued 
man, and a wanton woman." (Japanese). "Of 
three things the devil makes a salad: Advocates' 
tongues, notaries' fingers, and a third that shall 
be nameless." "Three things drive a man out 
of doors: Smoke, dropping water (or a leaky 
roof) , and a shrew. " " Three things only are done 
well in haste: Flying from the pl^ue, escaping 
quarrels, and catching fleas." (Italian). "Three 
things are insatiable: Priests, monks, and the sea." 
"Three great evils come out of the north: A 
cold wind, a cunning knave, and a shrinking 
doth." (English). "Three things cost dear: 
The caresses of a dog, the love of a mistress, and 
the invitation of a host." (English and Italian). 
"Three things soon pass away: Wcxman's beauty, 
the rainbow, and the echo of the woods." " Three 
things have no long continuance: Knowledge 
without argument (exercise), wealth without 
commerce, and a country without law and man- 
agement." (Kashmiri). "The three dearest of 
things : Hen 's eggs, pork, and old women's praise. " 
"The three prettiest dead: A little child, a salmon, 
and a black cock. " " Three of the coldest things : 
A man's knee, a cow's horn, and a dog's nose." 
"Three gifts of the Bard: A dog's hunger for a 
feed, a raven's bidding to a feast, an impatient 

Grouping Proverbs 281 

man's thirst for his dram." "Three that come 
unbidden : Love, j ealousy , and fear. " * * The three 
Femian bed stuffs: Fresh tree tops, moss, and 
fresh rushes." (Gaelic). "Three things on the 
earth are accounted precious: The three are 
knowledge, grain, and friendship. (Burmese). 

There are two that are never satisfied: He who seeks 
after learning and he who seeks after wealth. (Ara- 

There is not a gem in every rock, no pearl in every ele- 

Ehant, nor sandlewood in every forest, nor erudition 
I every place. (Burmese). 

There is a belief among the Burmese that there is a 
pearl to be found in the elephant's head. 

There is pain in acquiring wealth, pain in preserving what 
has Deen acquired, pain in its loss, and pain in its 
expenditure — ^why have such a receptacle of sorrow? 

The scoffer, tiie liar, the hypocrite, and the slanderer can 
have no share in the future world of bliss. (Hebrew) . 

These six — ^the peevish, the niggard, the dissatisfied, the 
passionate, the suspicious, and those who live upon 
others' means — are forever unhappy. (Sanskrit). 

The spring is the youth of trees, wealth is the youth of 
men, beauty is the youth of women, intelligance is 
the youth of the young. (Sanskrit). 

The thinking of a bad thought, the uttering of a bad speech, 
and the doing of a bad deed — this is the character of 
a fool. (Burmese). 

The voice is the beauty of cuckoos; chastity is the beauty 
of women; learning is the beauty of the deformed; 
patience is the beauty of ascetics. (Sanskrit). 

Though the sun and moon be bright, they cannot shine 
under an inverted bowl; though the sword of justice 
be swift, it will not behead a man without crime; 
neither wUl flying misfortune enter the doors of the 
carefnL (Chinese). 

282 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Those eager to amass wealHi regard neither piiests nor 
relations; those eager to indulge lust feel neither 
fear nor shame; those eager in tibe pursuit of knowl- 
edge care not for comfort or sleep; those eager to 
satisfy hunger regard neither the flavour nor the 
cookery. (Sanskrit). 

Those without a leader perish; those without a youthful 
leader perish; those without a female leader perish; 
those without many leaders perish. (Sanskrit). 

To be the husband of a worthless woman, covering with 
a hole in the middle of it, a hired weaver — these 
three are the agony of death. (Assamese). 

The Assamese cart is drawn by bullocks and covered 
with a kind of hood made of matting and held 
up by bamboo hoops. 

To confer favours happily three things are necessary: 
— ^promptness, discrimination, and secrecy. (Ara- 

To feed the land before it gets hungry; to give it rest 
before it grows weary; to weed it well b^ore it gets 
dirty — ^the marks of a good husbandman. (Gaelic). 

To go safely through the world you must have the eye of 
a falcon, the ear of an ass, the face of an ape, the 
mouth of a pig, the shoulders of a camel, and the l^s 
of a deer. (Italian, English). 

To rise at five, dine at nine, sup at five, go to bed at nine — 
make a man live to ninety-nine. (French). 

Another French proverb says: " To rise at six, eat at 
ten, sup at six, go to bed at ten — ^make a man 
live years ten times ten." 

See Wit and Humour in Proverbs: "Eariy 
rising is the first thing that puts a man to the 

We ask four things for a woman — ^that virtue dwell In her 
heart, modesty in her forehead, sweetness in her 
mouth, and labour in her hands. (Chinese). 

Grouping Proverbs ^283 

When anger is repressed by reason of inability to do im- 
mediate liann, it retires into the heart in the form of 
malice and breeds these vices: Envy, triumph over 
the enemies, iU, repulsion of friendly approaches, 
contempt, slander, derision, personal violence, and 
injustice. (Arabian). 

Who gains wisdom? He who is willing to receive instruc- 
tion from all sources. Who is the mighty man? He 
who subdueth his temper. Who is rich? He who 
is content with his lot. Who is deserving of honour? 
He who honours mankind. (Hebrew). 

Wishing for long life, one should eat facing the east; wish- 
ing for wealth, he should face the south; if he desire 
prosperity, he should eat facing the west; one should 
not eat facing the north. (Burmese). 

With dancing and joy, moves the maggot; wriggling about 
to and fro, moves the worm: They dance, they rejoice, 
but the child of the Banabana is going to the wood 
farm. (Yoruba — West Africa). 

"The Banabana is an insect that carries a bit of 
wood in its mouth, and this is an emblem of the 
poor who must fetch fuel from the farms. The 
proverb will thus mean — 'Others may amuse 
themselves, but the poor man has no hoUaay.' " — 
Richard F, Burton, 

Without ascending the mountain, one cannot know 
heaven's height; without descending to the valley, 
one cannot Imow the earth's depth; without listening 
to the sajrings bequeathed by a former king, one 
cannot know wisdom's greatness. (Chinese). 

You should forsake a man for the sake of your family; 
you should forsake vour family for the sake of your 
village; you should forsake your village for the sake 
of your country : you should forsake the earth for the 
sake of yourselx. (Sanskrit). 



There is no beast so savage but it sports with its 

mate. (Spanish). 

The APE claspeth her young so long that at last she killeth 
them. (English). 

AssEs sing badly because they pitch their voices too high. 


For every fruit consumed by a bat a hundred are spoiled* 


If the BANDICOOT could see behind her she would break 
her heart and die. (Marathi). 

If the BEAR will learn to dance he must go to school early. 


He feeds like a boar in a frank. (English). 

It will rain seventy times before a buffalo's horns wiH 
be wet. (Tamil). 

It is easy to threaten a bull from the window. (Italian). 

Are you to ask the bullock before you put on the pack 
saddle? (Telugu). 

A gude CALF is better than a calf o' a gude kind. (Scotch). 

If the CAMEL gets his nose in the tent his body will soon 
follow. (Arabian). 


Animal Proverbs 285 

He who plays with a cat must bear its scratches. (Ara- 

A COLT is worth nothing if it does not break its halter* 


A cow is not called dapper unless she has a spot. (Dan- 

More beautiful than the eye of a deer; more rapid than 
its speed. (Tamil). 

Although a dog may go to sea the water must be lapped* 


If a DONKEY bray at you don't bray at him. (English). 

Only an elephant can carry an elephant's load. (Mar- 

The EWE that doth bleat doth lose the most of her meat. 


The FOX goes at last to the shop of the furrier. (Turkish). 

The goat that climbs up the rocks must climb down again* 

(French Guyana— <]Jreole). 

In small woods may be caught large hares. (Dutch, 

Hedgehogs are not to be killed with a fist. (Portuguese). 

A hog that's bemired endeavours to bemire others. 


A golden bit does not make the horse any better. (Ital- 
ian, German). 

The greyhound that starts many hares kills none. 

(Spanish, Portuguese). 

Incredible news — a jackal gone on a pilgrimage* (Mar- 

When the tree falls the kid can climb it (Louisianian 

286 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Death devoiirs lambs as well as sheep. (English). 

The LEOPARD is absent so they play with the cubs. (Afri- 

The LION is not half so fierce as he's painted. (Spanish). 

He that lacks my mare may buy my mare. (Scotch). 

When MASTIFFS fight, little curs will bark. (English). 

A MOLE can undermine the strongest rampart. (Chinese). 

What need is there of a king in a country where there is 
no work, or of a mongoose where there are no snakes? 


A MONKEY never watches his own tail; he watches his 
neighbour's. (Mauritius Creole). 

It is a bold mouse that makes her nest in the cat's ear. 


^ Cutting off a mule's ears won't make him a horse. (Lou- 
isianian Creole). 

Art thou worn out and become a muskrat; hast thou cast 
thy horns? (Tamil). 

The ox is never weary of carrying its horns. (Haytian 

Pigs may whistle but they hae an ill mouth for^t (Scotch). 

It is bad for puppies to play with cub bears. (Danish). 

Rabbit says: ** Drink everything^ eat everything, but 
don't tell everjrthing." (Martmique Creole). 

He is in search of a ram with five feet. (Italian). 

Like excavating a mountain and catching a rat. (Tamil). 
Let ilka sheep hang by its ain shanks. (Scotch). 

The full sow knows not the squeak of the empty one. 


Animal Proverbs 287 

A SQUIRREL ascends'by climbing. (Tamil). 

The still SWINE eats the mesh; the wild ones run past it. 

He sits like a tiger withdrawing his daws* (Malay). 

The breath o' a fause friend's waur, than the fuff (threat) 
o* a WEASEL. (Scotch). 

He who goes with wolves learns to howl. (Spanish, 
Italian, German, Danish). 


God gives every bird its food but they must fly 

for it. (Dutch). 

The FOWL knows the serpent's sneezing. (Bengalese). 

Cherries are bitter to the glutted blackbird. (French). 

Chickens are slow in coming from unlaid eggs. (Ger- 

Though the cock crows not morning wiU come. (Afghan) . 

When the crane attempts to dance with the horse she 
gets broken bones. (Danish). 

If you put a crow in a cage will it talk like a parrot? 


He hasna the gumshion o' the cuckoo. (Scotch). 

He who makes himself a dove is eaten by hawks. (Ital- 

Like a conversation of ducks — ^nothing but wah-wah. 


The old age of an eagle is as good as the youth of a spar« 
row. (Greek). 

288 Curiosities in Proverbs 

It is not evefy man that can cany a falcon on liis hand. 


A wild GOOSE never laid a tame egg. (English). 

He that will meddle with all things most go shoo the 
GOSLINGS. (English). 

Mother, marry me, marry me, or the gull will fly away 
with me. (Spanish). 

It is hard to lure hawks with empty hands. (Danish). 

The HEN cackles in one place and lays eggs in another. 

(Modem Greek). 

The heron's a saint when there are no fish in sight 


A JACKDAW is ever fomid near to a jackdaw. (Greek). 

A hungry kite sees a dead horse afar off. (English). 

He expects that larks will fall ready roasted into his 
mouth. (French). 

The magpie cannot leave her hopping. (Dutch). 

Only the nightingale can understand the rose. (Mar- 


I have lived too near a wood to be frightened by owls* 


Speech like that of a parrot; gait like that of a peacock. 


The partridge loves peas, but not those that go into the 
pot with it. (African). 

The sluggard, like the peacock, is afraid of rain. (Kaia- 


The voice of the pigeon in the spit is not like the voice of 
the pigeon in the tree. (African). 

Animal Proverbs 289 

A seaman, if he carries a millstone, will have a quail out 
of it (English). 

Foster a raven and it will pluck out your eyes* (Spanish). 

The ROBIN and the wren are God's cock 'and hen; the 
martin and the swallow are God's mate and marrow. 


The sound of the bell does not drive away rooks. (Ital- 

Sparrows should not dance with cranes — ^their legs are 
too short. (Danish). 

It is said that the stork died while waiting for the ocean 
to dry in the hope of getting a supply of dried fish. 


It is not for the swan to teach eaglets to sing. (Danish) . 

If wishes were thrushes, beggars would eat birds. (Eng- 

As poor as Job's turkey, that had to lean against a fence 
to gobble. (American). 

There's winter enough for a snipe and woodcock too. 

He who disturbs the wren's nest, with health he will 
ne'er be blest (Welsh). 


AND other aquatic ANIMALS 

"The fish comes to his senses after he gets 
into the net." (Turkish). 

Easterly wind and rain bring cockles here from Spain. 

. (EngUsh). 

It is because of his good heart that the crab has no head. 

(Martinique Creole). 


290 Curiosities in Pxoverbs 

He that has an eel by the tail has a very milikely hold. 


He can wile the flounders oot o' the sea. (Scotch). 

To angle all day and catch a gudgeon at night (English). 

Let every herring hang by its own talL (Irish). 

** Ye look like « linner," quo' the deil to the lobster. 

A MACKEREL to catch a whale, a sprat to catch a mackerel. 


There's life in a mussel as lang as it cheeps. (Scotch). 

Oysters are not good in a month that hath not an '' R " 
in it (English). 

A salmon from the pool, a wand from the wood, a deer 
from tiie hills — ^are thefts which no man was ever 
ai^iamed to own. (Gallican). 

Like the sea-serpent (a msrthical animal, not the sea- 
snake of the Indian and Pacific Oceans), frequently 
heard of but seldom seen. (English). 

The hook that caught this shad must have been baited 
with a pin-cusnion. (English). So said because of 
the large number of small bones. 

The wrecker ashore is worse than the shark at sea. 


Better the head of a sprat than the tail of a sturgeon. 


There is no catching trout with dry breeches. (Portu- 


Very like a whale in a butter tub. (English). 


Animal Proverbs 291 


including scorpions, snails, leeches, worms, etc. 

"Although you take a reptile on a cushion it 
will se^ a heap of dry leaves." (Tamil). 

If the ADDER were not so dangerous, women would take 
it for petticoat strings. (Haitian Creole) • 

Till you are across the river, beware how you insult the 
mother alligator. (Haitian Creole). 

The good, like the cobra, sometimes retain their power 
and conceal themselves. (Tamil). 

The CROCODILE in the water and the tiger on shore both 
strive to break my neck. (Bengalese). 

The FROG flew into a passion and the pond knew nothing 
of it. (Modem Greek), 

The LEECH wants to become a snake. (Mauritius Creole). 

Better be the head of a lizard than the tail of a dragon. 

Whoever pats scorpions with the hand of compassion 
receives punishment* (Persian). 

He that hath been bitten by a serpent fears a rope. 


The snail deserves the end of its Journey. (Welsh). 

If the SNAKE cares to live, it doesn't journey upon the 
high-road. (Haitian and French Guyana Creole). 

^ To the devil with so many masters,'' said the toad to 
the harrow. (French). 

Daddy tortoise goes slow, but he gets to the goal while 
Daddy deer is asleep. (Louisianian Creole). 

Like seeking feathers from a turtle. (Cingalese). 

292 Curiosities in Proverbs 

He that keeps malice harbours a viper in his heart. 


Sorrow is to the soul what the worm is to wood. (Turkish). 


incxuding spiders 

"One grain-destroying insect will consume a 
thousand grains of rice." (Tamil). 

Bugs are all the same whether they bite or not (Tamil). 

What could the ant do if it had the head of a bull? (Ger- 

From the same flower the bee extracts honey and the 
wasp gall. (Italian). 

The BEETLE is a beauty in the eyes of its mother. (Afri- 

The COCKROACH is never in the right where the fowl is 
concerned. (Trinidad Creole). 

The light of the firefly is sufficient for itself only. 


Nothing is ever well done in a hurry except fleeing from 
the plague or from quarrels 'and catching fleas. 

A drop of honey catches more flies than a hogshead of 
▼megar. (German). 

Glowworms are not lanterns. (Italian). 

When GNATS swarm in January the peasant becomes a 
beggar. (Dutch). 

Like a grasshopper — ^fascinated by a lighted lamp. 


Animal Proverbs 293 

It is nonsense to set a louse on a steel to bark at a tailor. 


There is no cloth cut so fine but moth will eat it (English). 
A carbuncle appeared on the back of a mosquito. (Tamil). 
Friends tie their purses with spider's thread. (Italian), 
Anger is a stone cast at a wasp's nest* (Malabar). 



A bird in the cage is worth a hundred at large. (Italian). 

This proverb is found in many lands and in various 

Better be a bird in the wood than one in the cage. (Ital- 

" Better be a free bird than a captive king." (Dan- 

See Curious Objects Referred to in Proveibs: "A 
titmouse in hand is better than a duck in air." 

A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard. (English). 

A green Tule makes a fat kixkyard. (Scotch, English, 

Both proverbs e3cpress the same thought, though 
they seem to contradict each other in the use 
of the words "black" and "green." 

See Weather and Christmas Proverbs. 

A blind man may sometimes shoot a crow. (Dutch). 

"A blind pigeon may sometimes find a grain of 
wheat." (Danish). "A blind hen can some- 
times find her com." (French). "The blind 
man has picked up a coin." (Portuguese). 

The blind catch a flea t (Osmanli). 

An exclamation of surprise, that any one should 
suggest the possibility of such a thing. 

A friend is not known till he is lost (English). 

"A friend is often best known by his loss." (Ger- 


Contradicting Proverbs 295 

He never was a friend who has ceased to be one. (French) . 

After dinner sleep awhile, after supper go to bed. (Eng- 

This receipt for health is contradicted by many 
proverbs that give different directions, as for 

After dinner rest, after supper walk. (Venetian). 

After eating walk a hundred paces. (Sanskrit). 

After eating stand or walk a mile. (Latin). 

After dinner vou must stand awhile or walk a thousand 
paces. (German). 

After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile. (English, 

Alexander Hislop in referring to the Scotch form 
of the proverb says: "This advice is unfitted for 
the dining practices of the present day; but when 
our ancestors breakfasted at six, dined at eleven, 
and supped at four or five, the counsel may have 
been good enough." 

"The Normans were dainty eaters, epicures, and 
therefore their cooking was nice. Rich spices 
were plentifully used. Among the grand dishes 
provided on great occasions were the boar's head 
and the peacock, served to the blare of trumpets, 
with much ceremonial — of which more anon. 
A dish of cranes was a favourite dish on the table 
of a baron. Simnel and wastel cakes and spice 
bread were among the usual dainties. Wastel 
was a fine well baked white bread next in quality 
to simnel, a rich cake generally made in a three- 
cornered shape. 

The daily routine of a Norman household is seen 
in the rhyme of the period: 

To rise at five and dine at nine, 

To sup at five, to bed at nine, 

Makes a man live ninety-and-nine. 

296 Curiosities in Pxoverbs 

This shows a remarkable change in manners be- 
cause the Saxons had four heavy meals during 
the day. — Frederick W. Hackwood in Good Cheer. 

A good horse often wants a good spur. (English). 

"A good horse and a bad horse need the spur; a 
good woman and a bad woman need the stick." 
(Italian). "The horse that draws best is most 
whipped." (French, Italian). "It is the bridle 
and spur that makes a good horse." (English). 
"One whip is good enough for a good horse, for 
a bad one, not a thousand." (Russian). 

A good horse has no need of the spur. (Italian). 

" A gentle horse should be sindle spurr'd. " (Scotch). 
"A fast horse does not want the spur." (Por- 
tuguese). "Do not spur a free horse." "It is 
ill to spur a flying horse." (English). "Spur 
not a willing horse. (English, French, German, 
Italian, Spanish). "Be the horse good or bad, 
always wear yovu* spurs." (Italian). 

A Jannar' haddock, a Februar' bannock, and a March pint 
o' ale. (Scotch). 

This proverb is intended to indicate when the 
haddock, bannock, or home-baked flour cake, 
and ale are at their best. 

A camera! haddock's ne'er gude till it gets three draps 
of May flude. (Scotch, English) . 

A cameral haddock is a very large, sometimes an 
ill-shaped haddock. 

A lie becomes true when one believes it (German). 

Though a thing has been false a hundred years it cannot 
become true. (German). 

Always take the day of possession to ponder on the day 
of destitution; do not wait for the time of poverty to 
think of the time of plenty. (Chinese). 


Contradicting Proverbs 297 

"Forecast is better than hard work." (English). 
" He who does not look before him must take mis- 
^ fortune for his earnings." (Danish). "He who 
looks not before finds himself behind . * ' (French) , 
"If people take no care for the future, they will 
soon have to sorrow for the present." (Chinese). 

This morning having wine, this morning drunk; tomorrow's 
sorrows may be sustained tomorrow. (Chinese). 

See Isa. xxii: 13; I. Cor. xv: 32. 

A new broom sweeps clean. (English, Italian, Scotch, 

"All that is new is fine." (French). "A new 
broom is good for three days." (Italian). "A 
new servant will catch a deer." (Hindi). 

"Some laughed, and said: All thing is gay that is 
Some thereto said: The green new broom sweepeth 

But since all thing is the worse for the wearing, 
Decay of clean sweeping folk had in fearing." 

John Heywood, 

An old broom is better than a new one. (Accra— West 

An old bird is not caught with chaff. (English). 

"Old birds are not caught with new nets." (Ital- 
ian). Old birds are not caught with cats." 

A wise bird (wise because of age and experience) has 
been caught with chaff. (Tamil.) 

"A sly bird is often caught by the two feet." 
(Modem Greek). 

Answer not a fool according to his folly lest thou also be 
like unto him* (Hebrew). 

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his 
own conceit (H^rew). 

298 Curiosities in Proverbs 

See Introduction and Bible Proverbs — Old Testa- 

A setting hen loses her breast feathers. (English). 

"Change of pasture makes fat calves." "A setting 
hen never gets fat." "A tethered sheep soon 
starves." (English). "Who stands still in the 
mud sticks in it." (Chinese). "The marble 
stone on which men often tread seldom gathers 
moss." (English). 

"Seldom mosseth the marble stone, 
That men oft tread." 

William Langland. 

"The millstone does not become moss-grown." 

Though the millstone moves and gathers no moss, 
it teaches an opposite lesson from that of the 
"rolling stone" m the proverb following, for it 
performs its work and is useful to mankind. 

A roUing stone gathers no moss. (Latin, Greek, English, 
Dutch, German, French, Spanish). 

"A rowing stane gathers nae fog." (Scotch). 
"A trolling stone gathers no moss. " A tumlan 
steann gidders nae moss." "A plant often re- 
moved cannot thrive." "People often change 
and seldom do better." "Remove an old tree 
and it will wither to death." (English). "Three 
removes are as bad as a fire." (Italian). " Who 
often changes suffers." (French). "A tree 
often removed will hardly bear fruit." (Italian, 
French). "Old trees must not be transplanted." 
(German). "A stone often moved gathers no 
moss." (Polish). 

The "rolling stone" referred to in this proverb was 
probably a sea-coast stone made round and 
smooth by constant rolling with the ebbing and 
flowing tide. Its continuous motion would 
effectually prevent any moss or seaweed from 

"The proverb came originally from the sea-board 
people who would be more or less familiar with 
the phenomena of their coasts; most probably 

Contradicting Proverbs 299 

it originated with the Greeks who lived on a penin- 
sula and an archipelago and in whose ancient 
literature it is found. . . . The poetic beauty 
of this proverb is great, much jf reater than that 
of most proverbs, which also favours its origin 
from the aesthetic Greeks." — Frank Cowan. 

"Prom the time they first gained a foothold on 
Plymouth Rock they began to migrate, progressing 
and progressing from place to place and land to 
land, making a little here and a little there, and 
controverting the old proverb that a rolling stone 
gathers no moss." — Washington Irving. 

"The stone that is rouling can gather no mosse. 
Who often remoouth is sure of losse, 
The riche it compelleth to pay for his pride; 
The poor it undooeth on everie side." 

Thomas Tusser. 

A sin concealed is half foxgiven. (Italian). 
A sin confessed is half forgiven. (Italian). 

A true friend does sometimes venture to be offensive. 


A good friend never offends. (English). 

Barking dogs don't bite. (French, German, Dutch, 

"The greatest barkers bite not sore." " Dogs that 
bark at a distance never bite." (English). 
"Great barkers are nae biters." (Scotch). 
" Beware of a silent dog and still water." " Timid 
dogs bark worse than they bite." (Latin). "A 
d(Mj which barks much is never good at hunting." 
"Beware of the dog that does not bark." (Por- 
tuguese). "Dumb dogs and still waters are 
dangerous." "Timid dogs bark most." (Ger- 
man). " Let the dog bark so he does not bite me. " 
(Spanish). "Threateners do not fight." 
(Dutch). "Black clouds thunder a great deal 
but rain little." (Behar). 

300 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A dog will baik ere he bites. (English). 

" Dogs ought to bark before they bite." (Eoglish). 

"The dog that bites does not bark in vain.'* 

Better have an egg today than a hen tomorrow* (Italian). 

It is better to have a hen tomorrow than an egg today* 


Better late than never* (English, French, Italian, German, 
Dutch, Danish). 

" Better late thrive than never do wed." (Scotch). 
"Come late, come right.'' (Hindoo.) 

It is too late to throw water on the cinders when the house 
is burnt down. (Danish). 

" It's ower late to lout when the head's got a dout." 

Birds of a feather flock together. (German, Danish, 

"Like a blad{:-faced villain joining an oily-legged 
sinner." "All the gems m one place, all the 
snails in another. "Common oysters are in 
one spot and pearl oysters in another." "A fly 
to a fly." (Telugu). "Birds of a feather flock 
together, and so with men, like to like." (He- 
brew). "A jackdaw always sits near a jackdaw." 
(Greek) . " Every sheep with its fellow." (Span- 
ish). "Like very readilv gathers together with 
like." (Latin — quoted oy Cicero). "Like will 
to like, as the devil said to the charcoal burner." 
(German). "Like to like. Jack to Lizzie." 
(Dutch). "Like to like and Nan to Nicholas." 
(English). "Like draws to like and a scabbed 
horse to an auld dyke." (Scotch, Danish). 

The proverb is found with many variations in all 
lands. "Like priest, like people." "Like author, 
like book." "Like father, Uke son." "Like 
master, like men." " Like prince, like people." 
"*Like lord, like chaplain. "Like wood, like 

Contradicting Proverbs 301 

arrow." "Like pot, like cover." "Owl to owl, 
crow to crow," etc. 

"Every fowler knows the truth of this proverb. 
All the birds in the air, on the earth, and in the 
waters have a mutual correspondence, rendez- 
vous, and understanding with those of the same 
feather, and nothing but destruction can sepa- 
rate *em. They may be scatter'd or dispersed 
for a time into different comers and quarters 
of the country, but they will still be upon the 
wing to find out their stragglers, and flock together 
again in spite either of sportsmen or spaniels, 
|;uns, nets, or stalking horses. This is palpable 
m all birds, that fly over the face of the earth for 
game on the gentleman's recreation."— OjwoW 

"A parent or guardian should always reflect upon 
the consequence of placing a child or a ward here 
or there. Some company is as infectious and 
more mischievous than the plague, and no ac- 
count can be given for the odd choice that some 
people make in the disposition of a son, who are 
extremely solicitous about the good breeding of 
a dog." — Samuel Palmer, 

"For as saith a proverb notable. 
Each thing seeketh his semblable." 

Sir Thomas WaU 

Birds of prey do not flock together. (Portuguese). 

"Two birds of prey do not keep company with 
each other." (Spanish, Portuguese). 

Every dog is a lion at home. (English, Italian). 

"Bullock at home, a cat abroad," "A swan in his 
own village, a crow in the next." "At home an 
elephant, abroad a cat." "At home a hero, 
abroad a coward." (Tamil). 

At home a sjdder, abroad a tiger. (Telugu). 

See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "A prophet 
is not without honour save in his own coun- 
try and among his own kin and in his own 

302 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Friends are far from a man who is unfortunate. (Latin). 

"In time of prosperity friends will be plenty, in 
time of adversity not one in twenty.* "When 
good cheer is lacking our friends will be packing." 
(English). " Let hun who is wretched and ,b^- 
^SLred try everybody and then his friend." (Ital- 
ian). "May God not prosper our friends that 
they forget us." (Spanish). "So long as for- 
tune sits at the table friends sit there. (Ger- 
man). " Friends and mules fail us at hard passes." 
(Gallican). " He who has a good nest finds good 
friends." (Portuguese). 

A friend is best found in adversity. (English). 

"My friend is he who helps me in time of need." 
(German). "A true friend is known in the day 
of adversity." (Turkish). "A friend cannot 
be known in prosp>erity nor an enemy in adver- 
sity." "A friend in need is a friend in deed." 

Friends agree best at a distance. (French). 

They cease to be friends who dwell afar off. (Latin» 

God keep the cat out o' our gate for the hens canna flee. 


God keep the cats out of your way for the hens can flee. 


He never was a friend who has ceased to be one. (French), 

The best friend often becomes the worst enemy. (Ger- 

He who marries early makes no mistake. (Osmanli). 
He who marries early will leave a widow. (Osmanli). 

Contradicting Proverbs 303 

Honesty is the best policy. (English). 

"Honesty maketh rich, but she works slowly." 
"The best investment for income is honesty." 
(German). "Knavery may serve for a turn, but 
honesty is best at long run." "Honesty may be 
dear bought, but can never be a dear penny- 
worth." " None can be wise and safe but he that is 
honest." (English). 

Long leal, lang poor. (Scotch). ^ ^ 

Leal — I. «., honest, true, faithful. ^^ 

"There are tricks in all trades but ours." "Honest , 

men are easily humbugged." "Every man has 

his business lies." (English). "Honesty is 

praised and starves." (Latin). 


If possible, don't tell your secrets to your friend. (Per- 

Tott ought not to tell the secret of your heart to any but a 
friend. (Persian). 

It is a goodly thing to take two pigeons with one bean. 

(English, Latin, French, Italian). 

"To kill two birds with one stone." "To kill two 
flies with one slap." (English). "For one re- 
ward to follow up two matters." "To take two 
boars in one cover." (Latin). "To kill two 
flies with one clapper." (German). "To make 
two hits with one stone." (French). " To bring 
down two apples with one stidc." (Dutch), 
' "To hit two marks with one arrow." "Two 

doves with one arrow." (Persian). "To kill 
two rabbits with one crook." (Porttiguese). 
" To catch two pigeons with one bean." (French, 

With one arrow two birds are not struck. (Osmanli). 

It is good fishing in troubled waters. (French, Spanish, 
Dutch, Scotch). 

"The fisherman fishes in troubled waters." (Portu- 



304 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Kever fish in troubled waters. (English). 

"In still waters are the largest fish." (Danish). 

Let him not be a lover who has no courage. (Italian). 
"Love fears no danger." (German). 

Who loves believes, who loves fears. (Italian). 

Love szpels jealousy. (French). 

A loving man, a jealous man. (Italian). 

Marry in haste and repent at leisure. (English, French* 
Italian, German, Dutch). 

"Hasty marriages seldom turn out well." (Ger- 
man). "Make haste when you are purchasing 
a field, but when you are to marry a wife be slow. 
(Hebrew). "Marry in haste and repent at 
leisure, *tis good to marry late or never.* 

"Grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure, 
Marry in haste we may repent at leisure." 

William Cawper. 

Happy the wooing that's not long in doing. (English). 

Money is flat and meant to be piled up. (Scotch, Nor- 

Money is round and meant to roll. (English, French, 

* * Money is round ; it truckles. * * (English) . 

Kearer the bane, sweeter the flesh. (Scotch). 

" Nearer the rock the sweeter the grass." (Scotch). 

The same thought is expressed in various forms in 
English, Dutch, and German proverbs. 

The flesh is aye fairest that's farthest frae the bane 


"The nearer the church, the farther from God." 

Contradicting Proverbs 305 

^English). "Near the monastery, last at mass." 
(French). "Near the kirk, but far frae grace.'* 
"Nearest the king, nearest the widdy" — the 
rope or gallows. (Scotch). 

"But first declare 
When you and your wife's rich kinfolk do dwell 
Environed about us [quoth he], which showeth well. 
The nearer the churdh, the farther from God. 
Most part of them dwell within a thousand rod." 

John Heywood. 

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today. 


See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "Do not 
think today what you are to eat tomorrow." 

"He who stays till tomorrow stays at the back." 
(Osmanli). "By the street *Bv and By' one 
comes to the house of 'Never.' ' (Spanish). 

"Work while it is called today for you know not how 
much you may be hindered tomorrow, which 
makes poor Richard say — One 'today is worth 
two tomorrows,' and father, 'Have you some- 
what to do tomorrow? Do it today!' " 

Benjamin Franklin. 

"Defer not till tomorrow to be wise, 
; Tomorrow's sun to thee may never rise." 

WUliam Cangreve. 

"Procrastination is the thief of time 
Year after year it steals till all are fled." 

Edward Young, 

If there is anything disagreeable to do, do it tomorrow. 

"If you wait till tomorrow have no fear of mishap." 
(Osmanli) . ' * Think today and speak tomorrow. " 
"Leave tomorrow till tomorrow." (English). 
"Today must borrow nothing of tomorrow." 

It may also be said in favour of either proverb: 
"No one has ever seen tomorrow" and "To- 
morrow comes never." (English). 

Ko one is content with his own lot (Portuguese), 

3o6 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Who is not satisfied with his condition is a great fooL 


"Let everyone be content with what God has given 
him." (Portuguese). "He that is contented 
with his poverty is wonderfully rich." "Con- 
tent lodges oftener in cottages than palaces." 
"Be content the sea hath fish enough. (Eng- 
lish). "He has enough who is contented?' 
(Italian). "A contented man is always rich." 
(Latin). "A contented mind is a specific for 
making gold." (Tamil). 

Ko woman is ugly if she is well dressed* (Spanisht Por« 


Ugly women finely dressed are the uglier for it (EngHsh). 

The best choice is to do good. (Welsh). 
The best choice is wealth. (Welsh). 

The best friend is an acre of land. (Welsh). 
The best friend is a clean conscience. (Welsh). 

The dog bites not his master. (Osmanli). 

A man may provoke his own dog to bite hlnu (English). 

There is no better friend in misfortune than gold. (Ger- 

Gold is the greatest enemy in the world. Qapanese). 

There is no foUy like love. (Welsh). 
Without love, without sense. (Welsh). 

There is no friend to a man like his mother. (Osmanli). 

Contradicting Proverbs 307 

A man has ho friend like a brother, no country like Irak. 

There never was a looking-glass that told a woman she 
was ugly. (French). 

"Every woman loves the woman in the looking- 
glass." (German). 

An ugly woman dreads the mirror. (Japanese). 

"The uglier the face, the more it chides the looking- 
glass. (German). "They took away the mir- 
ror from me because I was ugly, and gave it to 
the blind woman." (Spanish). "Your looking- 
glass will tell you what none of your friends will." 

The song should be for her whose wedding it is. (Behar). 

"The day before the expected arrival of the mar- 
riage procession, the family sets up a bamboo shed 
in the courtyard over the fireplace. The shed 
is called Mashwa, Maurwa, or Manro. It is the 
hut in which a marriage ceremony is conducted." 

G. A. Grierson. 

One should act as befits the occasion. 

It is the wedding of the sickle and all the song is for the 
hoe. (Behar). 

"This proverb appears somewhat quaint to us, but 
in the mouth of the people whose chief pursuits 
are agricultural, the allusion to implements of 
agricidture is but natural." — John Christian. 

Action or speech is out of place. 

Though the camel goes to Mecca forty years he does not 
become a hadji. (Osmanli). 
A hadji — i. c, a pilgrim. 

The camel is a pilgrim. (Osmanli). 

Because ne often goes to Mecca. 

We can five without a brother, but not without a friend. 

3o8 Curiosities in Prov^bs 

We can live without our friends, but not without our neigh- 
bours. (English). 

When a man will throw at a dog he soon finds a stone* 


"A stick is soon found to beat a dog." (English, 
Italian, Dutch). ''Whoso is desirous of beating 
a dog will readily find a stick." (French). " He 
that wants to strike a dog ne'er wants a stick." 

When a dog comes a stone cannot be found; when a stone 
is found the dog does not come. (Telugu). 

"If we see a dog there is no stone and if we see a 
stone there is no dog." (Tamil). 

Who weds ere he be wise shall die ere he tfariTes. (Eng- 

"Honest men marry soon, wise men not at all." 
** It is good to marry late or never." QSnglish). 

Early marriages, long love. (Oerman). 

Either marry very 
young." (Modem 

"Either marry very young or turn monk very 




A fool: unable to make out the front from the hind part of 
an elephant (Behar). 

"Said of a fool who cannot make 'head or tail* of 
anything — ^like the villager who, it is said, on 
seeing an elephant for the first time, exclaimed: 
*It has tails on both ends.* " — John Christian, 

After Abb&d&n no village remains. (Arabian). 

A derisive expression applied to people who laud 
their native town no matter how lowly and ob- 
scure it is. Abbdddn was said to be a place in 
the district of Sowdd on the eastern bank of the 

A great man that with his tnrban cocked ! (Bengalese). 

Applied to an insignificant person who boasts of 
his great ability. 

A great merchant — eighteen robberies on his premises! 

A scoff at anyone who boasts of wealth and position 
but who is known to be poor and lowly. 

A great wedding — ^lac-paper on both legs I (Bengalese). 

Spoken jeeringly when one makes "a great ado 
about nothing," or displays his ornaments, or, 
although in htmible circumstances, has a preten- 
tious marriage procession. 

A huge baboon with a big beUy., yet declines jumping 
across to Lank&t (Bengalese). 

Lanka is the Sanskrit name of Ceylon or its capitaL 

. 309 

310 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The reference is to the monkeys who helped Rdma 
in his fabled invasion of the island. 

The proverb is applied to a braggart or one who, 
because of his appearance of physical strength, 
gives promise of ability, but who shrinks from a 
small enterprise. 

A hundred of the goldsmith's are not equal to one of tho 
blacksmith's. (Behar). 

A hundred strokes of the diminutive hammer of the 
goldsmith does not equal in its results one stroke 
of the blacksmith's sledge. 

The proverb is used in scoffing at the feeble efforts 
of one who attempts great things and fails. 

An unexpected thing has happened; the head Bhakat has 
been found fault with, whom shall I make Medhi ? 


The proverb is of course ironical. Next to the 
Gosain, the Bhakat is the most powerful person 
at the Sastra; of less importance is the Medhi, 
who, being the agent of the Gosain in the village, 
has particular honours paid to him at the village 

A pair, a wonderful pair: one has ears that have been cut 
off, and the other is a thief. (Assamese). 

An ironical proverb. In olden times the punish- 
ment for stealing in India was the loss of both 

A red packsaddle on a lazy ox. (Bengalese). 

A sarcastic phrase applied to a coarse person who 
seeks recognition from others by fine apparel and 

"A man is not always known by his looks nor is 
the sea measured with a bushel." (Chinese). 
"Everyone sees his smart coat, no one sees his 
shrunken belly." "Fine linen often conceals a 
foul skin." (Danish). "Fine clothes often hide 
a base descent." "Fine dressing is usually a 
foul house swept before the door." Foppish 
dressing tells the world the outside is the best of 
the puppet." " It is not the gay coat that makes 

Contemptuous Proverbs 311 

the gentleman." "No fine clothes can hide the 
down." (English). 

A retailer of ginger getting tidings of his ship. (Bengalese) 

A jeer at a man of limited means who talks about 
his laige undertaMngs. 

"Great boast and little roast make unsavoury 
mouths." " None more apt to boast than those 
who have least worth." (EngHsh). 

As bashful as a hog. (Modem Greek). 

A servant and a dog are alike. (Bengalese). 

Spoken by a servant who has an inconsiderate 

As fierce as a lion of Cotswold. (English). 

The lion of Cotswold is understood to be a sheep. 

The expression is used in referring to a coward. 

Sometimes it is said : " As fierce as a lion with a white 
face," or "As violent as an Essex lion." In 
Scotland the phrase, "As bold as a Lammermoor 
lion," is used. The reference in each case is to a 

As happy as a parson's wife during her husband's life. 

An ironical expression used in the early part of the 
seventeenth century. 

Ask the tapster if his ale be gude. (Scotch). 

An ill natured retort to one who questions another's 
integrity by asking him for information regard- 
ing his character or possessions. There are 
several similar English sayings: "Ask the seller 
if his ware be bad." "Ask my companion 
whether I be a thief." "Ask my mother if my 
father be a thief." The Italians say: "Ask the 
host if he has good wine." 

As learnt as a scholar o' Buckhaven College. (Scotch). 

See Proverbs that are Founded on Historic Inci- 
dents, Legends, Folk-Tales," etc: "To fence in 
the cuckoo." 

312 Cariosities in Prwreibs 

By the scholar is meant a Buckhaven fishennan. 
There is no such institution as Buckhaven Col- 
lege. It is common in many lands for people 
to select a locality or town within their borders 
for taunting purposes and it is not surprising that 
the Scotch should make merry over some place 
with which they were familiar. There is no 
particular reason why Buckhaven should be 
regarded as containing more ignorant people 
than any other town. Asia had its Phrygia, 
France its Abdera, Greece its Boeotia, Hindustan 
its Bohilkhund, Germany its Swabia, and Galilee 
its Nazareth. England also had its Nottingham, 
particularly Gotham located therein, that was 
supposed to be the place where fools lived. 

"A little smith of Nottingham . 
Who doth the work that no man can." 

To say that a man was "as wise as a man of Goth- 
am*' has long been equivalent to calling him a fool, 
though the Gothamites are no more foolish than 
others, and the absurd stories told about them 
are without the slightest foundation. 

"If a man of Naresh (in Babylonia) has kissed 
thee, count thy teeth." (Hdjrew). "Children 
of Badaan." (Hindustani). 

A squaw's tongue runs faster than the wind's legs. (Ameri- 
can Indian). 

"One tongue is enough for a woman." "One 
tongue is enough for two women." (English). 
"The tongue of women is their sword, and they 
take care not to let it rust." (Chinese). 

Bring change for this. (Persian). 

This is a reply to one who asks the loan of money, 
and is spoken as a rupee is held before his face. 

Cleaned in a mortar. (Hindustani). 

An ironical expression to indicate that the person 
has many faults. 

Cutting grass for a dead cow. (Bengalese). 

Applied derisively to one who labours for those 
who do not pay their servants. 

Contemptuous Proverbs 313 

Bagles catch nae fleas. (Scotch). 

Applied to people who excuse themselves from 
meeting small obligations on the ground that 
large and important affairs consiune all the time 
at their command. 

The saying is found in many languages, but prob- 
ably came from the Latin motto: "Aquila non 
capit muscas.'' 

Father's and grandfather's names forgotten, he is the 

grandson of "Hida, the weaver. (Bengalese). 

Tauntingly applied to one who boasts of ancestors 
who are of no great consequence. 

For beauty a camel» for singing an ass. (Telugu). 

For the love of my beau I did not observe whether he had 
a beard. (Modem Greek). 

An expression of repugnance for one whose presence 
is disagreeable. 

Give him some rue, lest he be bewitched. (Modem 

Used ironically and applied to people who are 
always anticipating some evil, and who, because 
of this are timid and irresolute and act as though 
they were bewitched. 

In olden times rue was thought to possess magical 
power, particularly in protecting against the 
mfluence of witches. Aristotle accounted for 
the superstition by declaring that Greeks were 
not in th^ habit of sitting at the table with 
strangers, and that when by accident or other- 
wise they did so, they at once became nervous 
and excited and ate so rapidly that the food was 
not properly digested and caused flatulency, 
indigestion, nightmare, and similar ailments, 
which indicated the presence of evil powers and 
led them to the conclusion that they were be- 
witched. Finding that rue was an antidote 
they adopted it as a charm. 

In England the plant was thought to have a special 
influence on the eyes, enabling any person who 
had it in his possession to see witches. Some- 

314 Curiosities in Proverbs 

times it was placed over the door to keep witdies 


According to Milton, Adam's eyes were cleansed 
by its use. 

"To nobler sights 
Michael, from Adam's eyes the film removed 
Which that false fruit, which promised dearer sight 
Had bred, then purged with Euphrasie and Rue 
The visual nerve, for he had much to see." 

So potent, and even sacred, was the plant thought 
to be that the priests of old England made brushes 
of it with which they sprinkled holy water. For 
this reason rue was called the "Herb of Grace." 

On the continent it was twined with cnine's-bill 
and willow in making magic wreaths. 

God had seen him through a sieve-hole. (Modem Greek) . 

This is a taunting proverb applied to people who 
have had great expectations that have come to 

Gude reason and part of cause. (Scotch). 

"An ironical approbation of some foolish sasring, 
action, or design." — James Kelly. 

Hareship in the Highlands, the hens in the com, if the 
cock goes in, it wiU never be shorn. (Scotch). 

An ironical exclamation over a small loss. 

"Her'ship, a Scottish word which may be said to 
be now obsolete; because fortunately the practice 
of 'plundering by armed force,' which is its mean- 
ing, does not require to be commonly spoken of." 

Sir Walter Scott. 

He has taken root even in the rock. (Bengalese). 

Applied sarcastically to anyone who has succeeded 
in securing a gift either as a present or as alms 
from one who has the reputation of being miserly. 

He cannot be contented in a basket, and when he sleeps 
he does not eat. (Modem Greek). 

Used in referring to anyone who has been praised 
when praise is not deserved. 

Contemptuous Proverbs 315 

Hell neither dee nor do weel. (Scotch). 

Sarcastically applied to one in ill health who is 
constantly fault-finding and fretful. 

He's a hardy man to draw a sword at a haggis. (Scotch). 

A taunting phrase applied to boasters. 

A haggis is a pudding peculiar to Scotland. ' * Popu- 
lar opinion holds firmly to the idea of national 
dishes or at least insists upon associating certain 
viands with certain nationalities. It is thus we 
speak of English roast beef, Scotch hag^s, Irish 
stew, and, if we dare venture to name it, Welsh 
'rabbit.' "--Frederick W, Hackwood. 

The force of the proverb may be seen by the fol- 
lowing quotation. 

"There was never a more extraordinary feast than 
that described in Noctes Ambrosians in which 
occurs the 'deluge of haggis.' The dishes, 
brought in all together, were as miscellaneous 
a collection as could be well imagined — a hot 
roasted round of beef, a couple of boiled ducks, 
a trencher of tripe d la Meg Dods, a haggis, a 
pickled salmon, Welsh rabbits, oysters raw, 
stewed, scalloped, and pickled, 'Rizzards,' 
'Finzeans' (sun-dried haddock and smoke-dried 
haddock), and red herrings. This was supposed 
to be *a bonny wee neat bit sooper for three'; 
and if appetite for the encounter could have been 
generated by excitement it was soon forthcoming; 
for, alarming to relate, as soon as the shepherd 
had all too rashly 'stuck' the haggis, it over- 
flowed the table! Then there was a stir and 
bustle and consternation, a mad rush for 
towels, and a calling of all hands to the rescue. 
Presently the messy tide overflowed the carpet 
and a greater demand was made on the napery 
for the construction of a dam across the floor. 
Indeed, ere the festivity could be resumed, a 
period of perturbation and disturbance had to be 
endured, till the wretched haggis had 'subsided.' 
When eventually the precious company had 
escaped being 'drooned in haggis,' a fate far 
'waur than Clarence's dream, confidence was 
restored and the festivity at last proceeded with 

3i6 Coriodfies in Ptoverbs 

soberness and harmony." — Frederick W, Hack^ 
wood in Good Cheer. 

He wonldna lend his giilly» no, to tiie d^ to stick hh 


Applied to mean men who refuse to part with their 
money for any cause. The meaning is similar 
to the sarcastic Italian sa3ring: "He would not 
lend the devil a knife to cut his throat." 


IBs calves are gone to grass. (English). 

Used as a jeer at men with slender l^;s. 

IBs mother a radish, his father a turnip — ^it is a noble 
birth. (Osmanli). 

"His mother an onion, his father a garlic dove, he 
himself a cinder clout." (Osmanli). 

How batii the oppressed ceased: tiie golden dty ceased. 


See Isa. xiv: 4 

A taunting proverb once quoted by a prophet 
against the king of Babylon. It is a short reflec- 
tion against some ruler. If any particular ruler 
was intended it was Balshazzar. 

How is it that the king of Babylon, who oppresses 
his subjects and exacts heavy tribute from de- 
pendent provinces, has discontinued his exac- 
tions? Why has Babylon, that was called "the 
Golden City" because of the gold that was 
poured into it through tribute money, ceased 
to enrich herself in that way? 

If e'eryonmak a lucky puddin'ni eat the prick. (Scotch). 
I am as likely to eat a hole as you are to be lucky. 

If he is very straight he is still like a sickle. (Behar). 

He is a thoroughly dishonest man; he is crooked 
even when he is at his best. 

If my dog were as ill-bred as you, the first thing I should 
do would be to hang him. (Gaelic). 

Contemptuous Proverbs 517 

U ye dlnna haud him hell do't a'. (Scotch). 

Applied tauntingly to lazy people. 

If you do not restrain him in some way he will 
certainly over-exert himsdf . 

FU break your jaws with your own stone and your own 
roller 1 (BengsJese). 

A threat spoken in sarcasm and applied to one who, 
being ungrateful for benefits received, seeks to 
injure his benefactor. 

It rains on the opposite side. (Modem Greek). 

Used in taunting one who pretends that he does 
not understand what is said or done. 

It is tiie same whether you strike with the sharp edge or 
the blunt side. (Assamese). 

You are of so little consequence and so weak that 
you cannot injure me. 

Lang beards heartless, painted hoods witless, gay coats 
graceless, mak' England thrifdess. (Scotch). 

See Local and National Characteristics and Pre- 
judices in Proverbs: "Lang beards," etc. 

A taunting proverb used during the reign of Edward 
III. when the English and Scotch were at war 
with each other. 

'In this yere (1327), whiche at this daye was the 
second yere of Kjmg Davyd fore said, the sonne 
of Robert le Bruze, the kyng of Scottes, marryed 
upon the forenamed Jane, sister unto the kynge 
of Englande. But it was not long of the Scottes, 
in despite of the Englishe menne, call her Jane 
Makepeace. And also to their more dension 
thei made diverse truffes, roundes, and songs. Of 
the which one is specially remembered as follows: 

*Lond beerdis hartless, 
Paynted hoodes coytless, 
Gay cottes gracelis, 
Maketh Englande thryf teles. ' 

Which rhyme, as saieth Grydo, was made by the 
Scottes, principally for the deformyte of clothyng 
that at those days was vsed by Englysshe menne. 

Robert Fabyan, 


31 8 Curiosities in Ptoverbs 

Like ftte caimiiig nt flying when it sees tiie cat. (Beo- 


Applied sarcastically to a fool bjr those who are 
employed to repair some mischief he has done, 
and who has been lauded for his caution and 

Nae equal to yon but onr dog Soilde, and he's dead, so 
ye're mairowless. (Scotch). 

A taunting expression applied to boasters. 

inghtingales like tiie cameL (Osmanli). 

Applied to one whose voice is unpleasant. 

Our daughter-in-law has found out the little comer behind 
the door. (Modem Greek). 

Used in referring to some one who claims that he 
has made a great discovery, whereas the matter 
has been well known. 

Pigs may whistle, but they hae an ill mouth for *t (Scotch). 

Applied to people who take responsibilities and 
attempt to do things far beyond their ability. 

Relaxed in frame, but firm of tongue. (Bengalese). 
A sarcastic reference to boasters. 

Tak your meal wi* ye an' your brose will be thicker. 


A sarcastic saving given as advice to anyone who 
accepts an mvitation to a meal where the wdl- 
known habits of the host indicate that he wQl 
not have sufficient food to eat. 

You would better eat heartily before you go, then 
your dish of oatmeal and boiling water will be 
all the thicker. 

The blind man's quarters are at tiie tumer's. (Behar). 

The blind man finds emplo3rment in turning the 
turner's lathe, hence the proverb used sarcasti- 
cally of tiie place frequented by anyone. 

Contemptuous Proverbs 319 

The bore flows up the riyer, therefore seize the potter 
and bring him before me. (Bengalese). 

Applied to those who blame others falsely and attri- 
bute the misdeeds of one person to another. 

The doctor has ringworm on his nose. (Assamese). 
"Physician, heal thyself." 

The excellent dog bites his master. (Osmanli). 

The fly has eaten iron. (Modem Greek). 

The weakling thinks that he can do an impossible 

The Jews are welcome to Saturday. (Persian). 

A taunt arising from a belief among Moslems that 
Saturday is an imlucky day. 

The jingle of his brass pots is in the air, while the royal 
youth knocks down the birds. (Bengalese). 

A jeer at people who with inadequate means seek 
to imitate the practices and dress of the great 
and wealthy. 

The brass worker acts As though he were indulging 
in the pleasures of the chase. 

The kiss of love wounds the tip of the nose. (Assamese). 

Literally: "The kiss of love breaks asunder the 
cartilage." Used in referring to dissimulated 

The mean man's oz has fallen. (Hindustani). 

Used in deriding a man who has given an exagger- 
ated account of losses that are in fact trivial. 

Them that likes na water brose will scunner at cauld 
steerie. (Scotch). 

Brose is made of oatmeal and water. Cauld steerie 
is cold sour milk and meal. Scunner — *. e., to 
loathe or be disgusted. 

A taunting phrase used when people complain of 
their food. 

320 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The nails grow at sight of the barber I (Bengalese). 

As if one, seeing a barber pass, suddenly thinks of 
his nails which need attention and, stopping him, 
insists on immediate service r^ardless of tiie 
barber's other engagements. 

The sa3ring is sarcastically applied to people who 
impatiently demand attention, no matter how 
much they inconvenience others. 

The science of the camel is selling of silk; verily it suits 
his hand and foot (OsmanH). 

A scoff at the attempt of a clumsy person to per- 
form a task that requires skill. 

The snake is not poisonous, it only hisses. (Assamese). 
The fellow is not dangerous, he only boasts. 

The son of a tailor ; he will sew as long as he lives. (Behar) . 

He has low-class habits and will never rise above 

Think of fine rice in a coarse and torn bag I (Bengalese). 

Used in sarcasm when a mean man is extolled for 
the exercise of virtue or praised for some small 

This is the right thing, and the other is the wick of the 
candle. (Spanish). 

Applied to a blunderer as a taunt when he mistakes 
one thing for another. 

Unable to fly, in vain the bird flaps its wings. (Bengalese). 

Used in derision when anyone attempts to do that 
which is beyond his strength. 

We know what flower it is, there is no need of a declara- 
tion. (Osmanli). 

We know the man's character, there is no need of 
your telling us about him. 

Ye're the wit o' the townhead, that called the haddock's 
head a thing. (Scotch). 

A sneer at one who is talking foolishly. 

Contemptuous Proverbs '321 

You are always best when asleep. (English). 

You are not I and I am no cur. (Gaelic). 

You are so cunning that you know not what weatiier it is 
when it rains. (English). 

You were not within when (common) sense was distri« 
buted* (Gaelic). 

You will have in store whatever you have not eaten. 


A phrase frequently quoted to misers in olden times, 
but sometunes used seriously in advising spend- 
thrifts to cultivate habits of thrift and economy. 




A crow fought with a crow, a crow conquered a crow. 

(Yoruba — ^West African). 

"The Yorubas amuse themselves by repeating as 
many times as possible, without taking breath, 
sentences such as the forgoing, containing a 
recurrence of similar sotmds — a good gymnastic 
for the tongue. At the end of each repetition 
of the sentence a bystander cries 'one, 'two,* 
etc., and he who repeats the sentence oftenest 
without a falter is victor." — Richard F, Burton. 

This phrase is suggestive of the three old English 
charms for the hiccough, which were to be re- 
peated three times in one breath for a complete 

"When a twister twisting would twist him a twisty 
For twisting a twist three twists he will twist; 
But if one of the twists untwists from the twist, 
The twist untwisting untwists the twist." 

"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, 
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked; 
If Peter Piper picked a peck of piclded peppers, 
Where is the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper 

"Robert Rowley rolled a round roll round, 
A round roll Robert Rowley rolled round; 
Where rolled the round roll Robert Rowley rolled 

As fit as a fritter for a friar's mouth. (English). 

A flea, a fly, and a flitch of bacon. (English). 

Htimorously declared to be a Yorkshixtanan's 


WUmsical Proverbs 323 

amis, l>ecause a Yorkshireman will suck anyone's 
blood like a flea, drink out of anyone's cup like 
a fiy, and is good for nothing till he's hung, like 
a flitch of bacon. 

As pert as a peannonger. (English). 

A mere alliteration without any special si^^niflcance. 

"As bold as brass," "As brown as a berry." 
"As busy as Batty." "As cold as a cucumber." 
"As cunning as a crowder" — ^a fiddler. "As 
drunk as a drum." "As dull as a Dutchman." 
"As fine as a fiddle." "As hard as a horn." 
"As kind as a kite." "As thick as thieves." 
"As true as a turtle." "As weak as water." 

A wooden horse and cloth saddle, one was invited and 
three went. (Hindustani). 

This is a kind of conundrum: Two men carrying a 
Dolee with one person within. 

By Tree, Pol, and Pen, you shall know the Cornish men. 


John Ray explains the meaning of this old saying 
as follows: 

"These three names are the dictionary of such 
surnames as are originally Cornish, and though 
nouns in sense, I may fitly term them preposi- 
tions. Tree signifieth town — hence Tre-fry, 
Tre-lawney, Tree-vanion, etc.; Pol signifieth a 
head — ^hence Pol- wheel; and Pen signifieth a top 
— hence Pen-tire, Pen-rose, Pen-ke^ etc." 

Francis Grose informs us in his Provincial Glossary 
that some people add a fourth ambiguous woro, 
making the proverb read: "By Tree, Pol, Pen, 
and Car, you shall know the Cornish men," Car 
signifying a rock, hence a Car-mine, Car-zeu, etc. 

Christmas today and May-day tomorrow. (Gaelic). 

"This is the result of an ingenious calculation show- 
ing that if Christmas day falls on Monday May- 
day will be Tuesday. It is generally but not 
absolutely ooTxecU^^-^Alexander Nicolson. 

324 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Dark and black he goes to the sky, and tiien falls back, 
after giving a cry. (Mexican). 

Signifying a rocket. 

Five seize, twice sixteen tear, all tiie rest ttte flavour share. 


The five fingers grasp the food, twice sixteen teeth 
divide and masticate it, and the tongue tastes it 
— ^while the whole body is refreshed and strength- 
ened by it. 

The proverb is frequently used in referring to 
different members of a household — each respon- 
sible for his own work, yet each dependent on all 
the others. 

Five score of men, money, and pins; six score of all otiier 
things. (English). 

Sometimes rendered: "Five score's a hundred of 
men, money, and pins; six score's a hundred of all 
other things." 

"The people of Norway and Iceland, according to 
the Thesaurus of Hickes, had a method of com- 
putation special to themselves, which consisted 
m the addition of the words tolfraedr, tolfraed, 
or tolfraet (whence our 'twelve'), which made 
ten signify twelve, a hundred equivalent to a 
hundred and twenty, a thousand represent a 
thousand and two hundred, and so on m propor- 
tion. This arose from the circumstance of these 
two nations having two decades or tens; a lesser, 
common to other nations, consisting of ten units, 
and a greater, comprising twelve (tolf) units. 
Thus the addition of the word tolfraedr or tolf raer 
converted the hundred into not ten times ten 
but ten times twelve — that is a hundred and 
twenty. This tolfraedic mode of reckoning by 
the greater decades, maintains Hickes, is still 
retained by us in reckoning certain articles by 
the number twelve, which the Swedes call dusin, 
the French douzaine, and ourselves a dozen; and 
in mercantile circles, he adds, as to the number, 
weight, and measure of several things, our hun- 
dred represents the greater tolfraedic hundred 
which is composed of ten times twelve. Thence, 
doubtless, was derived the current mode of reckon- 

Whimsical Proverbs 325 

ing by six score to the hundred." — John Brand 
in Popular AntiquiUes, 

Fortune favours fools. (English). 

An alliteration. 

"Some folks will have it that fortune favours fools: 
as if Providence had no kindness for the wise and 
bestowed all her benefits on the ignorant; or as 
if a man could not be fortunate without being 
reckoned an idiot or a silly illiterate fellow in 
their rash conjectures, as well as ridiculous 
reflections/*— OjwoW Dykes, 

" 'Tis gross error held in schools 
That fortune always favours fools." 

John Gay. 

"But since their good opinion therein so cools, 
That they say as oft: God sendeth fortune to fools; 
In that, as fortune without your wit gave it, 
So can your wit not keep it when you have it." 

John Heywood. 

Frost and fraud both end in foul. (English). 

A favourite saying of Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord 

Health to wear it, strength to tear it, and money to buy a 
new one. (English). 

Spoken on seeing someone with a new article of 

He that has an ill wife should eat muckle butter. (Scotch). 

He that has an ill wife should eat much but her — 
that is, he should eat much without her. 

He that loves glass without a 6, tako away L and that is 

he. (English). 

Het kail cauld, nino days auld, spell yo tiiat in four letters. 


The key to this childish proverbial puzzle is found 
in the word "that" — ^t-h-a-t. 

326 Curiosities in Pr o v e ibs 

He who nuuiies a maiden manies a pockfo' o^ 
he who marries a widow marries a pockfo* o^ 


U ftds amoonts to that, how much will Oat cooie to? 


Equivalent to the questioa: "What is the differenoe 
between six. and half a dozen?" 

In a shoolder of veal tiiere are twentf and two good hits. 


That is, there are twenty bits bnt only two that 
are good. 

In a Tecy dailc room is a dead one^ ttte living one Jtiniiiiig 
the dead one, and the dead one is shoaling. (Mexi- 

A kind of riddle referring to a piano. 

In whom it is, in him is eversrtiiing; in idiom it is not, 
whathathhe? He who halh acquired it, wliatlacketh 
he? In whom it is not, what hath he acquired? 

(Palestinian Hebrew). 

The reference is to wisdom. 

It has a trunk, hut it is not an elephant; it eats men and 
cattle, hut it is not a tiger; whatever it eats, it eats 
on the spot. It vanishes with a blast of mnsic. It 
is bom from water. (Assamese). 

A riddle referring to a mosquito. 

Lift me up and PU tell you more, lay me down as I was 
before. (Scotch). 

This phrase is used as a practical joke on people 
who are given too much curiosity. The first 
part of the phrase is cut, scratched, or painted 
on the upper side of a large stone where it may 
be easily seen and read. When the stone is 
lifted there is nothing to be found tmder it, but 
the curious investigator soon discovers the last 
part of the phrase inscribed on the reverse side 
of the stone, and he quickly drops it back in its 

Whimsical Proverbs 327 

One and one make eleven. (Hindustani, Kashmiri). 

Used to indicate the advantage of concerted action. 

One became two, friends became enemies, the crow be- 
came a dove. (Kashmiri). 

An old man's description of himself — One man 
has become two in that he is obliged to lean on a 
staff; friends have become enemies in that his 
teeth, that served him well in youth, are gone; 
and the crow has become a dove in that his black 
hair has turned to gray. 

One, two, three, four, are just half a score. (English). 
1+2+3+4 = 10- 

Providence provides for the provident. (English). 

Reckon right, and February has one and thirty days. 

But unfortunately the reckoning by which Febru- 
ary is found to contain thirty-one days has been 
forgotten or was never known. 

Rise, daughter, and go to your daughter, for your daughter's 
dau^ter has a dau^ter. (Scotch). 

Simply a whimsical phrase referring to four genera- 

Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, whom had 
they for a father? (Modem Greek). 

Alexander Negris says that this question, once 
asked one who was passing an examination, threw 
him into great perplexity. It is generally used 
when a person snows unusual stupidity or inabil- 
ity to comprehend some simple proposition. It 
is similar to the old English question asked 
diildren — "Who was the father of Zebedee's 
children? " 

That which adheres to or follows everyone. (Hindustani) . 
Referring to a shadow. 

The crab of the wood is sauce very good for the crab of the 
sea, but the wood of the crab is sauce for a drab that 
will not her husband obey. (English). 

328 Curiosities in P ro verbs 

The crab of the wood is a land crab; the wood c^ the 
crab is the wood ol the crab-apple tree; and a 
drab is a slatternly woman. 

The fsflier is not yet bom, but tihe son Ins tdcea haa 
stand bdiind. (Bciiar). 

A riddle proveifo referring to smoke. 

The saying is used when one has been waiting 
many days for some event or bene6t. As a 
isLther is bom before a son, so fire is kindled 
before the smoke appears; but ^dien one's ex- 
pectations have been fixed for a long time the 
natural order seems to be reversed — the son 
comes before the father and the smoke before the 

''The father was still in the pod, the son went to a 
wedding party." "The son is not yet bom, but 
a beat of the dram proclaims the event before- 
hand." "Before the cudgd and his forehead 
have met, he cries out 'O father! O father!'" 
"The trees in the orchard have not yet been 
planted, but the woodworms have settled down 
beforehand." (Behar). "The jack fruit is yet 
on the tree, but the oil has been already appliol 
to the lips" — ^to prevent its sticking. (Urdu). 
"We have no son and yet are giving him a name." 
(Spanish, Telugu). "While the cotton crop 
was stiU in the fidd, he said 'Three cubits for Pou 
and six for me' " — ^three cubits of doth for Poli, 
a feminine name representing a cousin. "Tying 
beads round an unborn child." (Tdugu). 
"Soon enough to cry 'Chuck' when its oot o' the 
shdl." (Scotch). "Don't reckon your eggs 
before they are laid." (Italian). "To cdd>rate 
the triumph before the victoiy." (Latin). 
"Do not reckon your chickens beu>re they are 
hatdied." "Count not four except you have 
them in a wallet." (English). "Chidcens are 
slow in coming from unlaid eggs." (German). 

The four S's which they say true lovers should possess. 


A Sancho Panza proverb. 
Sabio, Solidto, Secret©, y Solo. 
Sapient, Solicitous, Secret, and Solitary. 

Whimsical Proverbs 329 

There are two good men: One dead, the other unborn* 


This world's a widdle as weel as a riddle* (Scotch). 

This world is a constant wriggle as well as a puzzle. 

Three blue beans in a blue bladder. (English). 

Three Ps of York: Pretty, Poor, Proud. (English). 
"Three P's of Italy: Poison, Pride, Piles. 

To flee from the plague with three L's is a good sdence. 


Luego, Lejos, y Largo tiempo. 

Immediately, to a distance, to remain for a long 

To stumble at the letters R. R. (Spanish). 

To be drunk, because an intoxicated man cannot, 
by reason of his thick tongue, pronotmce the 
letter R twice. 

Two are better than three; woe to the one whiph goes but 
never returns. (Hebrew). 

It is better to be strone^ and able to walk without 
the aid of a staff. Woe is it for one's youth to 
pass, for it never returns. 

Ware and Wades-mill are worth all London* (English). 

The proverb seems to refer to the town of Ware and 
part of a village called Wades-mill, two miles 
north, whereas the reference is probably to ware 
as merchandise. 

"This I assure you, is a masterpiece of the vulgar 
wits of this country, wherewith they endeavour 
to amuse travellers, as if Ware, a thoroughfare 
market^ and Wades-mill, part of a village lying 
two miles north thereof, were so promgiously 
rich as to countervail the wealth of London. 
The fallacy lieth in the homonymy of Ware, 
here not taken for that town so named, but ap- 
pellatively for all vendible commodities. It is 
rather a riddle than a proverb." — John Ray. 

530 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Vrhea hen^e is span, En^and is undone. (English). 

"The word hemp is formed of the letters H-E-M-P- 
£, the initials of Henry, Edward, Mary, Philip, 
and Elizabeth, and supposed to threaten that 
after the reigns of those princes England would 
be lost — i, «., conquered. Fuller remarks that, 
to keep this saying in countenance, it may pre- 
tend to some truth, for, on the death of Elizabeth, 
and accession of King James I. the kingdom, by 
its junction with Scotland, took the title of Great 
Britain, by royal prodamation, and thereby the 
name of England was in one sense lost. Some 
interpreted this distich more literally, supposing 
it meant that, when all the hemp in England was 
expended, there would be an end of our naval 
force, which would indeed be fact, if no more 
could be procured." — Francis Grose. 

VThen the way is long you shorten it with your feet, not 
with a hatchet. (Oji — ^West Africa). 

This proverb contains a pun in the original and 
may be read in the two ways: "When the way 
is long you cut it off with your feet, not with a 
hatchet," and "When the way is long you pass 
over or through it with your feet, not with a 

Which is the fairest view of Scotland? (Scotch). 

Answer — the road that leads out of it, or the road 
that leads to England. 

This old proverbial riddle is sometimes quoted by 
Scotchmen as a reflection on the poverty of their 
own land, and sometimes used as a sneer at other 
Scotchmen who have left their homes to find 
employment in England. Another proverb 
often quoted in Scotland is, "England is fat 
feeding ground for North Country cattle." 

"I am to carry you to old Father Crackenthrop's, 
and then you are within a spit and a stride of 
Scotland, as the saving is. But mayhaps you 
may think twice of going thither for all that; 
for Old England is fat feoling ground for north 
country cattle." — Sir Walter Scott, 

"In aU my travels I never met with any one Scotch- 
man but that was a man of sense. I believe 

Wliimsical Proverbs 331 

everybody of that country that has any, leaves 
it as fast as he can." — Francis Lockier. 

White as a dove, black as pitch; it talks and has no tongue, 
it runs and has no feet. (Mexican). 

The reference is to a letter written on white paper 
with black ink. 

Who swims on sin shall sink in sorrow. (English). 
An alliteration. 

Why does Peter stir the fire? (Spanish). 

To warm himself. 

Similar to the old English question asked children: 
"Why does a miller wear a white hat?" The 
answer being, "To keep his head warm." 

"^thout being a mule in the mill, I go with my eyes covered 
and feet apart. (Mexican). 

A riddle referring to a pair of scissors. 

Tou cannot spell Yarmouth steeple right. (English). 

John Ray declares that the saying is also applied 
to Chesterfield Spire in Derbyshire. 

"This is a play on the word 'right.* Yarmouth 
spire is awry or crooked, and cannot be set right 
or straight by spelling. Some who choose to go 
further afield for a meaning consider the word 
'spell* as a verb, signifying to conjure with 
spells, and make the meaning to be. You cannot, 
by any spell, set Yarmouth spire straight or 
upright." — Francis Grose, 

Tou get gold out of earth and earth out of gold. (Telugu). 

Your land produces that which enriches you, and 
you buy more land with your wealth. 

Tou have drawn the letter M. (Modem Greek). 

This is equivalent to calling one a fool. 

You have drawn, as in a lottery, the letter M, which 
is the initial letter of Mupos — i. «., dull, stupid. 


A certain person tied an ox. The animal felL " SpcinUe 
some water upon htm." " Let us first," replied one, 
"get some out of the well to sprinkle upon him.'* 


The picture that is presented in this saying is that 
of an ox fallen to the ground from exhaustion 
and overwork while he remains tied to a water 
wheel. A man istands near who is advising the 
owner of the ox to throw some water on the pros- 
trate beast to refresh it, whereupon the owner 
answers — " Let us first get some water out of the 
well to throw on it." 

The saying is used in reference to people who give 
foolish advice. 

A crow exclaimed "God is the truth"; "Then," quoth 
one, "the dirt scraper has become a preacher." 


See Grouping Proverbs: "If your neighbour has 
made a pilgrimage to Mecca once, watch him; 
if twice, avoid his society; if three times, move 
into another street." 

A monkey solicited hospitality from demons. "Toung 
gentleman," they replied, " the house is quite empty 
of provisions. (Arabian). 

Never seek benefits of those who are capable only 
of inflicting injury. It is useless to ask hospital- 
ity of the niggardly. 

^Bridegroom salute I" "May (}od be blessed I" (Mod- 
em Greek). 

Addressed to one who has waited long for some 
benefit and whose patience is nearly exhausted. 


Question and Answer Proverbs 333 

<*CakeI Why so insipid?" "Because I lack a cash 
worth of sugar." (Tamil). 

<' Crow, how goes it with your children? " ** The more 
they growy the more they blacken." (Modem Greek) . 

This may mean, as a child grows he will show more 
clearly the characteristics of his parents, or it 
may mean, the character of an evil-minded man 
becomes worse with advancing age. 

'* Father," he said, " the person who washes his hand, is 
he to eat with us ? " '* Neither he nor thou also," 
he replied. (Arabian). 

It is a common practice in the East to wash the 
hands before eating. Sometimes the ri^ht hand 
only is washed, that being the one used in hand- 
ling the food. 

The proverb was used in referring to those who 
sought to prevent others from obtaining a benefit 
that they might secure it for themselves and 
found at last that neither of them were to have 
it. The proverb is now obsolete. 

'' Get up, yotmgster, and work." '' I am weak and cannot." 
" Get up, youngster, and eat something." ** Where 
is my big pot ? " (Kashmiri). 

** Good day, John." ^ I am sowing beans." (Modem 

Applied to people who are so engrossed in work 
that they are inattentive to others who ask them 
questions, and give only irrelevant replies. 

** He has seen pardon from a dry head." ** What kind of 
pardon did he see ? " (OsmanH). 

Favours granted by a bad man are worse than no 
favours, for they are sure to injure the recipient 
rather than benefit him. ''Even quarter granted 
by the vile, is vile." 


said. ** O SUve, I have bought thee." << That is thy 
tmsmess," he replied. "Wilt thou run away?" 
** That is my business," he answered. (Arabian). 

334 Curiosities in Proverbs 

He said to him, " Why are you crying while I am your 
uncle ? " He said to him. " I am crying because you 
are my uncle." (Arabian). 

** I almost killed the bird ! " " No one can eat almost in a 
stew." (Yoruba — ^West Africa). 

The proverb represents a colloquy between a sports- 
- man and a companion. 

"Almost never killed a fly." (German). "Almost 
kills no man." (Danish). "A miss is as good as 
a mile." (English). 

I asked him about his father. " My uncle's name is 
Shayby" he replied. (Arabian) . 

Similar to "'Good day, John.' *I am sowing 
beans/" being an irrelevant answer from one 
who is absorb^ in some work. 

*' I renounce thee, Satan! " " Thou shalt wear a shabby 
doak." (Spanish). 

The first part of the proverb is supposed to be 
spoken by one who refuses to make money dis- 
honestly. The second part is Satan's reply. 

The saying is intended to indicate that, if a man 
does not resort to fraudulent business practices 
he cannot succeed — he will always remain poor. 
It can be used of course only by those who esteem 
money of greater value than int^rity of character. 

*' It's a bauld moon," quo' Bennygask. " Anither pint," 
quo' Lesley. (Scotch). 

Used at a convivial party by one of the members who 
objects to the dispersing of his comrades. Alex- 
ander Hislop, in referring to the sa>dng, says 
that it "has nothing to recommend it but its 

"*Hout awa, Inverashalloch,* said Galbraith; 
'Mind the auld saw, man: It's a bauld moon, 
qu oth Bennygask; Anither pint, quo' Lesley. 
We'll no start for anither chappin.' " 

Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy. 

Jjt was asked of a woman, " Are you well? " She re^ed : 
" No, not at all. The child can just walk." (Kash- 

Question and Answer Proverbs 335 


When a child begins to walk it is constantly getting 
in its mother's way, often hanging on her skirts 
and giving her much annoyance, and is so fre- 
quently in mischief that she is compelled to be 
ever watchful. Her cares are thus increased and 
she is constantly wearied and in ill healt}i. 

It was asked, << What is the wish of the blind ? '' << A 
basketful of horns," they replied: " if he does not see 
he may like butting." (Arabian). 

This proverb is now obsolete. 

"The blind men of Cairo, especially those quartered 
in the mosques, are notorious for their very 
quarrelsome temper. The multitudes of blind 
men daily fed in the Mosque el Azhar have 
frequently committed violent outrages in fighting 
one with another." — /. L. Burckhardt, 

** My Lord,'' he said, ** the melon peels." '< Man," quoth 
he, " tiiy Lord eats the melon together with the melon 
. peels." (Arabian). 

The picture here presented is that of a man eating 
a melon in a shop where they are on sale. A 
beggar at his side asks for the rind, whereupon he 
turns and answers the man, quoting the lait part 
of the saying. 

** My service to you, imcle of the elephant foot"; *<My 
child, I am honoured in your converse t " (Bengalese) . 

A youth is here supposed to be jesting with a man 
who is much his senior and ridiculing him because , 
of his large feet. The last part of the proverb is 
the man's sarcastic reply to the young man's 
insulting words. 

The saying is used when anyone covertly refers to 
the faults and failures of others when compli- 
menting them on their virtues or achievements. 

** Neighbour, your house is burnt I " << Impossible, I have 
the keys." (Modem Greek). 

Applied to those who depend on inadequate meas- 
ures, or who give trivial reasons for confidence, 
in times of danger or threatened loss. 

33^ Cmiosities in ProreAs 

**OUa]ikeC,iHiere are jura?" said be. <* Wliece jon left 
me, joo mttdinmn,** it replied. (Tdngu). 

Used as a sharp retort to one who has mislaid or lost 
an article and inqtiires of another whete it may 
be found. 

** Oh, botti aie a cone/' (Kashmiri). 


MQ friend, km tlie snake.** ^^lamtkefsllicrof afa]ni^.«? 


I cannot afford to do the dangeioas tiiiqg tiiat voa 
ask. I have responsibilities and doienaent 
interests, and people would suffer dxNud I fail 
in the attempt. Do it youisdf . 

''O 6anida,afe jira wen?** <* I would be well enoqdi if 
I were in the place idiere I oni^t to be.** (Tamil).^ 

One man said, '* Let us go to tiie maniage'*; tiie ollicc 
replied, *' Let us leave the country.** (Telugu). 

Applied to those who take the other side of eveiy 
question, oppose every measure, contradict every 
statement, and object to every propositioiL 

Other Telugu proverbs are similarly used: "When 
the owner said his she-buffalo was barren, the 
neighbour said it was milch." "When the master 
fed the Dasaris (Devotees of Vishnu), the mistress 
fed the Jangams (Devotees of Siva)." "When 
one says he's going, the other says he's dying." 

f*P!ny,Mr.Barber,howmnch]iairisonn7head?'' **Sir, 
it will presentiy be laid before yoo.** (Hindustani) . 

Applied to one who asks for information regarding 
results that will ere longbe manifest or Teamed 
through experience. The following Persian 
proverb is sunilarly applied: "This is my hand, 
and this is the back of my hand." 

^ Sing, reverend sir." << My nail pains me.** (Modem 


Applied to people who make a trivial excuse iHieo 
asked to perform any task, or respond to any 

Question and Answer Proverbs 337 

Some person said to the gambler: ''Oh I Tour mother 
has died." He replied, " Bring her by this way." 


Applied to people who are so absorbed in their work 
that they are oblivious to other calls of duty and 
who refuse to turn aside from their occupation 
even for the most important matters. Their 
business has taken such a strong hold on them 

' that they can no more leave it than the gambler 
can leave his game. 

** Son-in-law, your nose drops." " It is from the winter." 

(Modem Greek). 

Used when men excuse their evil habits. 

The husband cries out, '* I am hungry I I am hungry 1" 
The wife replies, " Let the morning meal and evening 
meal be taken together." (Assamese). 

A taunting expression that is applied to women who 
in excess of economy seek to cut down family 
expenses to such an extent that suffering ensues. 

"The Assamese has, as a rule, three meals a day — 
in the early morning, midday, and evening. In 
the early morning he eats cook^ rice, either hot or 
cold, according to his fancy or his means. In 
the middle of the day he takes what is called 
Jalpan or Itmch, which often consists of pithaguri 
or cakes made from rice flour. In the evening is 
the large meal of the day; it consists of cooked 
rice, fish, or vegetables." — P, R, T, Gurdon. 

The mouse fell from the roof. '' Come take some refresh- 
ment," said the cat ** Stand thou off," she replied* 


Always mistrust the proffered assistance of an 
enemy. Be on your guard against favours from 
the evil-minded. 

"The crow knows the instant we look at it and the 
bison will perceive the approadi of the himter.'* 
(Malayan). "Think of the wolf but keep a rod 
in readiness for him." (Kurdish). "When you 
have the wolf in your company you ought to 
have the dog at your side." (Basque), *^When 
the fox is hungry he pretends that he is asleep." 


338 Curiosities in Proverbs 

(Modem Greek). "They trusted the key of the 
pigeon house to the cat." (Arabian). "The 
fowl knows the serpent's sneezing." (Bengalese). 
"When you go as a guest to the wolf see that you 
have a hound with you." (Servian). 

The owl and the hen waited together for the monuiig: 
«< The light is of use to me/' said the hen; ** hut of 
what use is it to you ? " (Tamil) . 

They asked: <' How does your patient ? " '* Very wefl," 
they replied, " He used to spit upon the ground, now 
he spits upon his breast." (Arabian). 

The reply of the physician indicates the extreme 
wealmess of his patient. 

They asked the cock, '< What hast thou seen in thy sleep ? ** 
'* I saw people sifting," he replied. (Arabian). 

Sifting com. 

"Who lies in a silver bed has golden dreams." 
"The ass, even eating oats, dreams of thistles." 
^German). "Foolish men have foolish dreams." 
(English). "The dream of the cat is all about 
mice." (Arabian). "Even in its dreams the 
crow's thoughts turn on eating filth." (Tamil). 
"A sow is always dreaming of bran." (French). 
"The whole world appears a fotmtain of water 
to a thirsty man in his sleep." "A cat all night 
dreamsof a sheep's tail." (Persian). "The cat 
dreams of garbage." "That which dwells in the 
mind is seen in dreams." "The dream of a fowl, 
barley is barley." (Hindustani). "He who is 
hungry dreams of radishes." "What the old 
woman had in her mind, that she saw in her 
dream." "He who wishes in the evening finds 
himself in an enchantment." (Modem Greek). 

They asked the cows, " If you die, do they not put you into^ 
shrouds ? " They replied, " Would to God they may 
leave our skins upon us." (Arabian). 

They asked the raven, " Who is the most beautiful ? ** 
'' My little ones," he said. (Osmanli). 

This proverb is found in many lands and is ex- 

Question and Answer Proverbs 339 

pressed in various wajrs. The most common form 
IS, "Every man thinks his own geese swans." 

They said to Satan, " Do you eat ashes ? " '* If there be 
fat with them," he said. (Osmanli) . 

This saying is applied to men who will stoop to do 
the most degrading things for the sake of money 
or other material benefit. 

They said to some blind men, " Oil is become dear.'' 
They replied, " That is a thing with which we can 
dispense.'' (Arabian). 

They said to the asses of the gypsum mill, " The day of 
resurrection is a terrible day!" " We have neither 
worn saddles nor eaten barley," they replied. (Ara- 

The answer attributed to the asses indicated that 
because of their hardships the day of resurrection 
was not terrible to them. 

"Those have most to dread punishment in the other 
world who lead a life of imdcserved enjoyment in 
this. The idle asses kept merely for pleasure in 
Cairo have fine saddles and are fed with plenty 
\ of barley or beans, while the hard-working ass 

goes with a bare back and gets nothing to eat 
\ but straw. The gypsum or plaster used at Cairo 

is brought from the eastern mountain opposite to 
Helouan, a village on the bank of the Nile, about 

^ five hours distant to the south of Cairo. The 
whole desert is overspread in those motmtains 
with loose gypsum covered with a thin coat of 
sand. The gypsum is pulverized in the mills at 
Cairo." — 7. L. Burckhardt in Arabic Proverbs, 

They said to the hare, " The mountain is vexed with you." 
" But I," he said, " am not vexed with it." (Osmanli) . 

" It takes two to make a quarrel." (English). 

They said to the heron, ^'Tour bill is crooked." He 
replied, '* Am I not all crooked ? " (Kashmiri) . 

They said to the little, " Whither are you going ? " « To 
the side of the much," it said. (Osmanli) . 

Ambition and purpose often carrv an insignificant 
man to a place of wealth and influence. 

340 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Thaj said to the moose, " Take these two pounds of sugar 
and carry this letter to the cat" *' The fee is ^ood 
enough," she replied, " but is tiresome." (Arabian). 

Pay for services is not always compensation for 
labour performed; it is sometimes compensation 
for risk. Lai^ge wages are paid to those who en- 
gage in dangerous occupations as well as those 
who are skilled in their work. 

Thaj said to the tailor, « It is difficult" He said, <* My 
needle is in my head." (Osmanli). 

Men are paid for knowine how to do a thing as well 
as for the actual woik that they perform. A 
skilled workman receives the highest wages. 

They said, *<Why is the nape of your neck so thick?" He 
said, " My own affairs, I myself look after them." 


An impertinent question calls for an impertinent 

** What a beauty ! " «< What a sweet voice I " (Marathi). 

This proverb represents a donkey and a camel in 
conversation. The donkey, desiring to pay a 
compliment to the camel, calls it a beauty, and 
the camel, not wishing to be outdone in politeness, 
returns that the donkey has a sweet voice. 

The saying is a satire on flattery and is applied to 
people who pay undeserved compliments, the 
mere purpose of which is that they may be re- 
garded as agreeable. 

*< What ! Do you steal in broad daylight ? " He replies. 
" Do you know how pressing my necessities are?" 


<< What do you wish?" <<That which I have not" (Tamil). 

*' What hast thou, Paul ? " " That which I had always." 

(Modem Greek). 

Applied to people who are continually complaining 
of their lot and keeping themselves in a state of 

** What is sweeter than sugar ? " << Truth." (Hindi). 

Question and Answer Proverbs 341 

^VThat is wanting to you, man with the ringworm?" *'A 
pearl cap." (Modem Greek). 

Applied to people who have absurd ambitions, 
particularly those who desire dress and adornment 
that is not fitted to their social station. 

*< Where is this twig?" " From this shrub." (Modem 


See Bible Proverbs — Old Testament: "As is the 
mother so is her daughter." 

When one said, '' Here^s a tiger I" the other said, '< And 
there's his tail 1 " (Telugu) . 

When one exaggerates in telling a story another 
seeks to rival him in the same way. 

'' VThere are you going to, Madam Fate?" asked one, " FU 
follow you, go on," she replied. (Telugu). 

Every man makes his own fate; evil results from 
evil companionships and habits, good results 
from good companionships and habits. 

*' Where goes't thou, bad fortune?" ''To the house of 
the man of many arts." (Modem Greek). 

"Jack of all trades is master of none." (English). 

''Where goest thou, she-goat?" "I go to the city": 
"If they permit thee, thou wilt go farther yet" 

(Modem Greek). 

"If your luck go on at this rate you may very well 
hope to be Ringed." "Give a fool rope enough, 
and he will hang himself." Sometimes "a thief, 
"a rogue," or "the devil" is used instead of "a 
fool." "Give him tow enough and hell hang 
himself." "Let him alone with the Saint's BeU 
and give him rope enough." "Give a child his 
will, and a whelp his fill, and neither will thrive." 

*' VTho borrows easily?" " He who pays punctually." 

(Modem Greek). 

<' Who has eaten the honey?" " He that has the fly on his 
umbrella." (Modem Greek). 

"Cover 3rourself with honey and the flies will have 
at you." (English). 

342 Curiosities in Proverbs 

«<Wh7didhedie?" << For lack of breath.'' (Hindustani). 

** Why do you ciy before you are beaten?" he asked* 
" You are going to beat me in future," replied the boy. 


''He takes off his clothes before he reaches the 
water." (Afghan). 

'' Why do you weep?" '' Not so, sir, this is my natural 
look." (Hindustani). 

'' Why is the funeral so hot?" One answered, <' Every 
person weeps for his own state." (Arabian). 

Or weeps because of his own unhappy condition. 

"A burial or funeral is said to be hot, or warm, when 
crowds of mourners attend it, cr)dng loudly. The 
women on those occasions wave their handker- 
chiefs with both hands, and, following the bier, 
sing the praises of the deceased, whom, whether 
male or female, they celebrate chiefly for beauty 
or finery: 'What a beautiful turban he had!' 
'What a lovely person she was! * 'What a fine 
veil she wore! *" — /. L. BurckhardL 

** Why, my girl, do you faint?" " I have not had rice 
enou^." (Tamil). 

" Why, you fellow, do you untie the knot?" " Do you 
Imow how hungry I am ? " (Tamil) . 

**You fellow! Why did you go up the cocoanut tree?" 
When thus addressed, he replied, "I went to get 
grass for the calf." (Tamil). 

A retort that gave no information and intended to 
be equivalent to the reply, "It is none of your 

*' You shrew, will you plaster the floor ? " " No, you wretch t 
ril dig it." "You shrew, will you dig the floor?" 
" No, you wretch 1 FU plaster it" (Hindustani). 


A chariot moves not on a single wheel. (Sanskrit). 

A response to people who exercise poor judgment or 
act with evil intent and then charge their mishaps 
and failures to fate. 

A lack and a lack, says one — ^make two score and ten, says 
another. (Bengalese). 

A reproving rejoinder to a blusterer who belittles a 
great undertaking and asserts that it can be 
accomplished with little labour and expense. 

Ask the sick man if he wishes for a bed. (Turkish). 

For similar retorts see Contemptuous Proverbs: 
''Ask the tapster if his ale is gude." 

As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth. 


Used in answering the question, "How old are 
you ? " when one does not care to tell his age. 

Drive a nail to me also. (Modem Greek). 

A reply to the boasting remarks of a conceited per- 
son, who compares himself to others who are 
greatly his superiors in intelligence and rank. 

Eat your melons, what business have you with the melon 
bed ? (Persian). 

Take what is offered to you and ask no questions. 

Used in answering one who makes many inquiries 
as to the source from which he is to receive pay 
for services. 


344 Cmiosities in Pioveibs 

FDOfHrh^ gir^ eaoai^ I already see jour unnij. (Hmdas- 
Spoken in derision to one who boasts. 

E^lain tkj meaning and sive not the aotlior'a name. 


To one who insimiates that he has informatinn 
that he is not permitted to give because it was 
communicated to him in confidence. 

For llie tnitii seven twists are not required. (Tdugu). 

A response to one who tries to cover a falsehood or 
mi»leed by lengthy explanations. 

Gar wood's ill to grow, dradde stanes are ill to chow. 


Forced woods are hard to grow; pd)bles are hard to 

A response to one who threatens force if his wishes 
are not complied with. 

Give me yonr eyes and go about to beg. (Hindustani). 

A response to a person who makes unreasonable 

Go wash yonr month. (Hindustani). 

Used as a reply when one does not intend to grant a 

Hoot your dogs and baric yonrsel'. (Scotdi). 

Explained by James Kelly as, "A sharp return to 
those that say 'Hout' to us, which is a word of 
contempt; in Latin, apage!" 

I am not a camel that you should wound me in two places 
of my neck. (Persian). 

Quoted by a man who refuses to be put to any 
expenditure of time or money for the benefit ot 
another who has injured him. 

U they ask you for cabbages, my father has a field full of 
peas. (Spanish). 

A proverbial reproach to a penson who has given an 
irrelevant answer to a question. 

Retorting Proverbs 345 

I have eaten diildren all my life and they now call me 
witch. (Bengalese). 

Witches are said to eat children and make ointment 
out of their fat. 

The rejoinder of one who has been charged with a 
faiilt or evil practice that he has induced all his 
life without censure. 

** Fm but begixming yet," quo' the wife when she run wud. 

A reply to those who ask whether one is through 
speaking or acting. 

I pricked nae louse'since I darned your hose, an then I 
might hae pricked a thousand. (Scotch). 

Said to have been originally the reply of a tailor to 
one who called him a prick louse. 

Commenting on the proverb, Alexander Hislop 
asks whether it "is not meant as a reply to one 
who may have been under the evil influence of 
another and who, having shaken himself free of 
it, can say honestly that since he has done so he 
has been perfectly free, however much he may 
have been under it before." 

I would hae something to look at on Sunday. (Scotch). 

A reply when asked " Of what use would it be to you 
to get married ? " 

Kiss your luckie, she lives in Leith. (Scotch). 

Luckie is a word used in referring to a woman, 
particularly an old or married woman. 

An intentionally irrelevant reply. 

"Gin ony sour mou'd girning bucky 
Ca' me conceity, keckling chucky. 
That we, like nags whase necks are yenky, 

Hae used our teeth, 
I'll answer fine — Gae kiss your lucky, 
She dwalls i* Leith. " — Allan Ramsay, 

Knead meal and make a cake. (Modem Greek). 

A rejoinder to one who pretends that he cannot do 
that which is clearly within his ability. 

346 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Krishna's name from a raven's mouth t (Bengalese). 

An exclamation of surprise when an ignorant or 
foolish man makes a sensible remark. 

It is said that minas and parrots are frequently 
taught by tiie Bengalese to pronounce the name 

Like the wahster stealing through the worid. (Scotch). 

A facetious reply to the question: "How are you 
getting on ? " 

The saying reflects, as do many proverbial 
retorts, on the honesty and honour of weavers. 
Why the weaver should become the scapegoat 
of proverb makers is not known. In Spam it is 
said: "A hundred tailors, a hundred millers, and a 
hundred weavers are three hundred thieves"; and 
in Germany men quote the maxim: "Millers, 
tailors, and weavers are not hanged or the trades 
would soon be extinct." In India weavers are 
frequently mentioned in the precepts of every- 
day life and always with -contempt or ridicule. 
John Christian, commenting on the Behar 
proverb, "The goat of a weaver, and given to 
viciousness!" — or butting, says: "The quiet, 
humble, forbearing weaver, tne butt of all and 
the typical fool of Indian society, is the most in- 
offensive of human beings; therefore, from a 
parity of reasoning, help^ by imagination, his 
goat, of all creatures in the world, ought to be the 
most inoffensive! Then, goats are not usually 
vicious, and much less the goat of a weaver." 

See Proverbs Pounded on Historic Incidents, etc: 
" The weaver lost his way in a linseed field." 

Mair in a mair dish* (Scotch). 

More in a larger dish. 

An answer of one who has eaten all the food that 
has been given to him and who has been a^ed 
whether he will have some more. 

Mix eggs and butter and make gravy for sharpening. 

(Modem Greek). 

A response to one who has refused to grant a favour. 
A soldier once asked a country woman for some 

Retorting Proverbs 347 

refreshment. Not wishing to supply his need, she 
pleaded as an excuse that she had nothing to give, 
whereupon the soldier told her to mix eggs and 
butter and make gravy for sharpening, and give 
it to him. The reply of the soldier is said to have 
given rise to the saying. 

One must wash even a dog's feet to gain a support. 

The retort of one who has been taunted with engag- 
ing in some mean or ignoble employment. It is 
sometimes used as an excuse for obsequiousness. 

Say aye ** No " and ye'U ne'er be married. (Scotch). 

A jocular response to one who has declined to 
accept a favour. 

Seek your sa' where you got your ail, and beg your barm 
where you buy your de. (Scotch). 

Seek your salve where you got your hurt, and beg 
your yeast where you buy your ale. 

"The surly reply of a person who has been shunned 
for some trivial or mistaken reason by one who is 
compelled by circumstances to apply to him for 
information or assistance." — Alexander Hislop, 

This retort seems to be an enlargement of the 
Scotch sa3ring, "Seek your salve where you get 
your sore, " which James Kelly claims to be used 
with the same import as the phrase, "Tak a 
hair o* the dog that bit you, " or "Sober yourself 
by taking another glass. 

Send your gentle blude to the market and see what it will 
buy. (Scotch). 

A retort to one who boasts of his ancestors. 

Sweet words are in your mouth, but in your heart a razor's 
edge. (Bengalese). 

A response to a h3rpocrite who speaks fair words to 
one whom he has slandered. 

Thaf s the way to marry me if ere you should hap to do it. 


A reply to one who has been too familiar. 

348 Curiosities in Proverbs 

The geese is a' on the green, and the gan'er on the gerse. 


A phrase used in refusing one who asks a gift. 

The sky was kicked away hy the kite. (Tdugu). 
An answer to an impertinent question. 

They wist as weel that didna speir. (Scotch). 

An answer to an impertinent question equivalent 
to "You would know as well had you not asked." 

Very weel ; thanks to you that speers. (Scotch) . 

I am very well — thank you for inquiring about my 

Wash your face with the water of a stagnant pooL (Hin- 

Used contemptuously in refusing to grant a request. 

Weel enough, but nothing too wanton. (Scotch) . 

An answer to one who inquires about another's 

What puts that in your head that didna put the sturdy wi't ? 


Sturdy — i.e. a disease in cattle. Giddy. 

A question of surprise to one who has spoken of 
something about which he was supposed to be in 
ignorance. Sometimes used when one has made 
a foolish remark. 

Whom do i exceed in plaguing dogs? (Persian). 

A retort by one who has been accused of treating 
others with disdain, tormenting and oppressing 
them — equivalent to saying: ''Those whom I 
injure are not men but dogs, who are treated with 
greater severity by others than they are by me." 

Wonder at your auld shoon when you hae gotten your new. 


A reply to those who express surprise at your 
behaviour. It's time enough to wonder at the 
condition of your old shoes when you get a new 

Retorting Proverbs 349 

Ye're come 0' blude, and sae's a pudding. (Scotch). 
A retort to one who boasts of his ancestry. 

Ye're early with your orders, as the bride said at the church 
door. (Irish). 

You a lady, I a lady, who is to put the sow out of doors? 


A satire on pride used in response to anyone who 
objects to engaging in some lowly emplojrment 
because of his social position. 

"You a gentleman and I a gentleman, who will milk 
the cow?" (Turkish). *'If I am master and 
thou art master, who shall drive the asses?" 
(Arabian). ''I am a queen and you are a queen 
so who is to fetch the water? ' ' (Hindustani) . 

You cackle often but never lay an egg. (English). 

You have broken my head and now you bring a plaster. 


You may catch a hare with a tabor as soon. (English) . 

See Curious Proverbial Similes: " Like a sow playing 
on a trump." 

Hazlitt suggests that this retort may have arisen 
from the satirical drawing of a hare playing on a 

"It is astonishing what may be effected by con- 
stant exertion and continually tormenting even 
the most timid and most un tractable animals; 
for no one would readily believe that a hare 
could have been sufficiently emboldened to face 
a large concourse of spectators without expressing 
its alarm, and beat upon a tambourine in their 
presence; yet such a performance was put in 
practice not many years back, and exhibited at 
Sadler's Wells; and, if I mistake not, in several 
other places in and about the metropolis. Neither 
is this whimsical spectacle a recent invention. 
A hare that beat the tabor is mentioned by Jon- 
son in his comedy of Bartholomew Fayre acted at 
the commencement of the seventeenth century; 
and a representation of the feat itself, taken 
from a drawing on a manuscript upwards of four 

350 Curiosities in Pioveibs 

hundred years old, in the Haileian Conection, is 
given below." — Joseph StruU in Sports and Pas^ 

Following the above statement, Mr. Strutt gives a 
copy of the picture to which reference was made. 

"The poor man that gives but his bare fee, or 
X)erhaps pleads in formd pauperis, he hunteth for 
hares with a tabor, and gropeth in the darke to 
find a needle in a bottle of hay." — Robert Greene, 

"Environed about us, quoth he, which showeth 
The nearer to the church, the farther from God. 
Most part of them dwell within a thousand rod; 
And yet shall we catch a hare with a tabor? 
As soon as catch aught of them, and rather." 

John Heywood, 

The saying is also quoted by William Langland in 
the fourteenth century. 

You would spy faults If your eyes were out (English). 
A rebuke to one who speaks ill of his neighbour. 



** A begun turn is half ended," quo' the wife when she 
stuclc her graip in the midden. (Scotch) . 

"A jocular beginning of work, which, if it went 
no further, would be long enough ere it were 
finished." Aleocander Ilislop, 

Wed saipet is hauf shaven." (Scotch). "Boldly 
ventured is half won." "A good beginning is 
half the work. ' ' (German) . * * Two ijarts of work 
is to begin it." (Welsh), "Begun is two- thirds 
done." (Gaelic). "To b^n a matter is to have 
it half finished." "A man prepared has half 
fought the battle." "To be lucky at the 
beginning is everything." (Spanish). "It is a 
small thing to run, we must start at the right 
moment. " "A happy beginning is half the work. ' * 
^Pren ch) . " For a web begun God sends thread . ' ' 
(French, Italian). "A good banning is half 
the battle." (English). 

' He who has begun, has half done." — Horace, 

There are many variations of the phrase. "Well 
begun is half done" — which is commonly used 
in France, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, 
Portugal, Denmark, Holland, America, and other 
lands, but in all cases they can be traced to 
Hesiod, who declared that "The banning is 
half of the whole." 


After he had eaten and was reclining on the sofa, he said, 
''Thy bread has a smell of mastick." (Arabian). 

"Ruse the ford as ye find it." (Scotch). "Praise 
the bridge which carries you over." "Nice 
eaters seldom meet with a good dinner." (Eng- 


352 Curiosities in Proverbs 

A large stone crashed a lizard. It said, *'So he who is 
stronger than one treats one." (Yoruba — West 


"The big fish eat the little ones, the little ones eat 
the shrimps, and the shrimps are forced to eat 
mud." (Chinese). 

A monkey watches tormus. *' Look," said one, ** at the 
guard and the crop." (Arabian). 

When the Arabs of Cairo see a base man holding an 
ofificial position that seems to them degrading, 
they are reminded of a monkey watching bitter 
beans, and they quote the proverb. 

"Boiled tormus beans are sold in the morning at 
the bdzdr and principally eaten by children 
without either salt or butter. The meal of this 
bean is used instead of soap by the poorer dasses 
for washing their hands, and on this account it is 
very generally cultivated in Egypt," 

J. L. Burckhardt. 

A splinter entered the sound eye of a one-e^ed person, 
" I wish you good-nig^t," said he. (Arabian) . 

Having lost the sight of his one sound eye he became 
totafiy blind so that it was always night to him. 

" Never judge by appearances." (English). 

At a watering place they say, ** Lift for me." (Oji — 

West African). 

Watering place in the sense of a place where water is 
obtained, as, for example, a well. At such a place 
the women say to each other, "Help me to lift 
my full waterpot on my head," for that is the 
manner of carrying water. 

"A little help does a great deal." " Soon or late the 
strong need the help of the weak," "A little 
thing often helps," (French). "A little thin? 
often brings great help," "Many can help one." 
(German). "A willing helper does not wait until 
he is asked." (Danish). "Even the just have 
need of help." (Italian). 

Confucius said, ** A man without distant care most have 
near sorrow." (Chinese). 

Quotation Proverbs 353 

That is, a man who does not consider the future will 
soon have sorrow. 

"He who looks not before finds himself behind." 
(French). "He who does not look before him 
must take misfortune for his earning." (Danish). 
"He that will not look before him must look 
behind him " — with vain r^ret. (Gaelic). 

"The wise man is on his guard against what is to 
come as if it were the present," — Publiiius Syrus, 

Confucius said: ** The inferior man's capacity is small and 
easily filled up; the superior person's intelligence is 
deep and difficult to overflow*'' (Chinese). 

''Fate assipis all things," say the indolent and base. 


A reproof to those who excuse their ill doings on the 
ground that they are under the power of fate. 

"He that does amiss never lacks excuses." "Any 
excuse will serve when one has not a mind to do 
a thing." (Italian). "Everyone is the maker of 
his own fate." (English). 

"Every man is the maker of his own fortune," — 

** Gie her her will, or she'll burst," quo' the man when his 
wife kamed his head with the three-legged stool. 


He first promises a thing and then, ** Get out of the way!" 


"He first makes me a promise, then when I go to 
him and ask for the fulfilment of his pledge he 
tells me to get out of the way. 

Applied to people who do not keep their promises. 

«*He fled, disgrace upon him I" is better than **He was 
slain, God have mercy upon him ! " (Arabian). 

See Bible Proverbs— Old Testament: "A living 
dog is better than a dead lion." 

Applied in derision to a cowardly soldier. 

354 Curiosities in Proverbs 

He prays upon his rosaiy the prayer of the mouse: ** O 
most holy, who hast created me for vile doings." 


Applied to hypocrites who seek excuse for their ill 
deeds and cover their base purposes by rdigious 

He's a friend at sneezing time — ^the most that can be 

fot from him is a '' God bless you! " (English^ 

The practice of responding to a sneeze, though 
dating back many centuries, is not so old, as the 
belief that sneezing itself was ominous of good or 
evil. Homer tells us that Princess Penelope 
prayed to the gods for the return of her husband 
Ulysses and was rewarded by a sneeze from her 
son Telemachus, which was regarded by Penelope 
as a sign that her petition was granted. Aristotle 
declared that in his day people considered a 
sneeze, but not a cough, as divine; that the 
Greeks believed that a business transaction, 
when accompanied by two to four sneezes, was 
likely to prove successful; and asked whv sneezing 
from noon to midnight was good and from night 
to noon unludcy. Xenophon, having finished an 
address to his soldiers with the words, "We 
have many reasons to hope for preservation," 
heard one of the men sneeze, whereupon he 
declared that it was a sign of good luck. Pliny 
said that it was considered fortunate to sneeze 
to the right, and unfortunate to sneeze to the left 
or near a burial place. 

"Love stood listening with delight, 
And sneezed his auspice on the right." 


Socrates always felt encouraged to carry out any 
enteiprise that he had in hand when someone at 
his right happened to sneeze; when the sneeze 
came from a person at his left he abandoned 
his project whatever it might be. 

Sneezing at a Roman banquet was considered 
particularly ominous; when it happened, some 
article of f (xxl that had been removed was brought 
back to be again tasted, to counteract the evil 
effect of the sneeze. 

Quotation Proverbs 355 

Among the Greeks and Egyptians, as well as among 
the Romans, sneezing was regarded as a kind of 
oracle, warning those who heard it against the 
danger of any course of action and foretelling the 

There is an inscription in Latin, in the garden of the 
Fawn at Pompeii which may be freely rendered: 
"Victoria, good luck to thee and wherever thou 
wilt, sneeze pleasantly." 

St. Austin declared that "the ancients were wont to 
go to bed again if they sneezed while they put on 
their ahoe. 

In India, Hindoos at the Ganges, when interrupted 
in their devotions by a sneeze, never venture to 
continue, but repeat their prayers again from the 

Among the Zulus of Africa, sneezing is a sign of the 
presence of a good or evil spirit, and among the 
Persians, of demoniacal possession. 

The custom of responding to a sneeze is said to have 
originated with the Patriarch Jacob. According to 
an old legend, sneezing before his time was fatal. 
This was a great sorrow to him, for it kept every- 
one in constant fear lest bv an unexpected sneeze 
death would immediately follow. So he prayed to 
God that this law of nature might be removed, and 
his prayer was granted on condition that every 
sneeze should be consecrated by an ejaculatory 
prayer — whence we find responses such as these in 
common use: "Long may you live," "Jupiter 
preserve you, " "May you enjoy health, " " Hail," 
**God save you," "God bless you," etc. This 
last response is said to have been first used in 
Athens, where a sneeze by a person afflicted with 
the plague was regarded as an evidence that he 
had pass^ the crisis of his disease and that 
recovery was possible. 

May it not be that many people in past centuries 
have found confirmation for this strange supersti- 
tion in the story of the raising of the Shunamite's 
son found in the Scriptures. (See II Ki. iv: 35). 

He walks upon the highest part of the wall and says: 
" For safety we trust to God ! " (Arabian). 

Applied to people who expose themselves to danger 

356 Curiosities in Proverbs 

and expect God will keep them from suffering 
any harm. 

"If you leap into a well, Providence is not bound to 
help you out," (English). "God helps those 
who help themselves." (German, French, 
English, Italian, etc.)* 

He who has done eating will say, ** He who eats at night is 
a sorcerer." (Oji — West African) . 

See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "Why 
beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's 
eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine 
own eye?" 

It is believed by many that the sin against which a 
man fights his hardest battles is the sin that he 
most severely condemns in others. 

"He that finds fault with rusticity, is himself a 
rustic. " — Julius Ccesar, 

He who knows not how to play his game, says, ** My place 
is narrow "; they have made him find room, and he 
says, " My sleeve is tight." (Osmanli). 

"A cough is the musician's trick to hide a blunder." 
(Greek). " When a musician hath forgot his note 
he makes as though a crumb stuck in his throat." 

If thou forgettest to say, '* Praise be to God," in what other 
words wilt thou pray? (Arabian). 

This proverb is applied to people who, intending to 
execute some important business, become so 
absorbed in its details that they neglect to per- 
form the most important part of the transaction. 

If you never went into another man's plantation, you would 
say, " I am the only planter." (Oji — ^West African). 

"He who does not go forth and explore all the earth 
is a well frog. ' ' (Sanskrit) . * * The frog in the well 
sees nothing of the high seas." (Japanese). 
"The frog mounted on a clod said he had seen 
Kashmir. (Indian). "He that imagines he 
hath knowledge enough hath none." "He that 
knows least commonly presumes most." (Eng- 
lish). "Who knows nothing doubts nothing." 
(English, French). 

Quotation Proverbs 357 

If yott say ** Let it go " the snake will be angry; if yon say 
** Hold it " the frog will be angry. (T^gu). 

** He is not born who can please everybody. " (Dan- 
ish). ''He labours in vain who tries to please 
everybody." "Jupiter himself cannot please 
everybody." (Latin). "He must rise betimes 
that would please everybody. " (French, Danish, 
English, Dutch). "He that would please all and 
himself too undertakes what he cannot do,' ' " No 
dish pleases all palates alike. " (English). "One 
cannot please everybody and one's father." 

"Not even Jove can please all, whether he rains 
or does not rain." — Theognis. 

** I have forgotten thy name " is better than ** I know thee 
not." (Wolof— West African). 

In saying ''I would be enfranchised from bondage," 
he falls into servitude. (Osmanli). 

** It would be something to one man; but for two, it is but a 
smaU portion," as Alexander said of tiie world. 

The reference is to Alexander the Great. 

** Let us agree not to step on each other's feet, " said the 
cock to the horse. (English). 

'* Mair haste the waur speed, " quo' the wee taUor to the 
lang thread. (Scotch). 

*^ Mair whistle than woo'," quo' the souter when he sheared 
the BCnr. (Scotch). 

See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "Great cry 
and little wool. 

The first part of this proverb is found in nearly all 

" Loud cackling, little egg. " " Great noise and little 
hurt." (Gaelic). "Great boaster, little doer." 
(English, French). "* Great cry and little wool,' 
as the fellow said when he shore his hogs." 
"'Great cry and little wool,' quoth the devil, when 
he sheared his hogs." (English). "* Great cry 
and little wool,' as the man said who shaved 

358 Cariosities in Proverbs 

the sow." (Italian). "'Great cry and Kttle 
wool/ said the fool, when he sheared his hogs." 
(German, Dutch). 

An interesting variant of this proverb is found 
in two other Scotch sayings: The Scotch farmer 
or goadsman in olden times sought to guide and 
incite his oxen to harder and steadier work by 
whistling to them, which was often more of an 
encouragement to the man than to his beasts, and 
soon gave rise to the proverbs: "Mudde whistlin' 
for little red Ian'," and "There's mair whistling 
wi' you than good red land," indicating that 
whistling was one thing and good turned up and 
well ploughed land another. 

Handtis said, ** Eating and drinking men are despised by 
^eir fellow men because tiiey pamper what is little 
and lose what is great." (Chinese). 

A phrase used in condemnation of gluttony. 

<< Mony a thing's made for the penny,** as the auld wife 
said when she saw the plack man. (Scotch). 

Sometimes the world "black" is used for "plack," 
thus making the proverb meaningless. 

The plack was a Scotch coin extensively used during 
the fifteenth century and worth about two-thirds 
of a cent (U. S.). Thus a man without money 
was called pladdess. 

"Ye Scots, wha wish auld Scotland wdl. 
Ye chief, to you my tale I tell, 
Poor plackless devils like myself 

It sets you ill, 
Wi* bitter, dcarthfu* wines to mell, 
Or foreign gill. " — Robert Bums, 

The plack man was the vender of inexpensive trink« 
ets or catchpenny articles as they would be called 
in England and America. 

*' Mudde din about ane, ^ as the deil said when he stole 
the collier. (Scotch). 

Nwariwa stands with dustering fruit and says, ** An orphan 
is a slave. ** (Efik — ^West African). 

Even the trees pity the orphan because of his help- 
less and dependent condition. 

Quotation Proverbs 359 

<< Onyfhing sets a gude face, ** quo' the monkey wi' the 
mirtch on. (^tch). 

** Rejoice, bucks, '' quo' Brodie, when he shot at the buiyin* 
and tibought it was a weddln'. (Scotch). 

^So on and accordingly, '' quo' Willie Baird's doggie. 


" Soor plooms," quo' the tod when he couldna climb the 
tree. (Scotdi). 

Tod, i.e., a fox. 

This is a variation of the familiar English proverb — 
"' The grapes are sour,* when he could not reach 
them," which was suggested by i£sop*s fable. 

It appears in many forms and is found in most of 
the modem languages. 

"The fox, when he cannot reach the grapes, says 
they are not ripe." "*Fie upon heps,* quoth 
the fox, because he could not reach them.'* 
(English). "The fox says of the mulberries when 
he cannot get them: 'they are not good at all.'" 

"A hungry fox saw some fine bunches of grapes 
hanging from a vine that was trained along a 
high trellis and did his best to reach them by 
jumping as high as he could into the air; but it 
was all m vain for they were just out of reach, so 
he gave up trying and walked away with an air of 
dignity and unconcern, remarking 'I thought 
those grapes were ripe, but I see now they are 
quite sour. ' " — Msop. 

The baboon says, ** If you put something into my mouth, 
then I will produce a good word, and tell you. ' ' (Oji — 
West African). 

Putting into The mouth indicates the gift of food. 

This is a selfish proverb teaching that men do not 
help each other without bein^ compensated. If 
you pay me I will give you advice. 

The West Africans are fond of attributing speech 
to animals. As, for example. In the Ashante 
Empire inhabited by two million people, such say- 
ings as these are often repeated; "Saith the fly, 

360 Curiosities in Proverbs 

' What is left behind is a great deal, * " referring 
to the fly's trimming itself with its hind legs, 
and used as an exhortation to continued labour. 
"The Krontromfi says, * A strong man dies only 
from his chest being hurt,'" referring to the 
chimpanzee and applied to strong men who are 
conscious of their power and proud of their ability 
to defend themselves, the chest being r^;arded as 
the seat of life. *' The baboon says, * My charm is 
in my eye, ' " alluding to the self-rdiance of brave 
men. "The hog says, *It is not my mouth! It 
is not my mouth!' but still it is his mouth." 
The hog ruined the plantation and then denies 
his guilt, so it is with the man who commits a 
crime and disclaims any responsibility. "The 
chameleon says 'Speed is good and slowness is 
good,'" indicating that there is a time for rapid 
movement and a time for deliberate action. "The 
tortoise sa3rs, 'A man must not be ashamed to 
run away. * " He must not be ashamed to retreat 
when retreat is advisable. The tortoise is prover- 
bially the slowest of animals. "The goat says, 
'Where much blood is, feasting goes on, '" corre- 
sponding to the Biblical proverb found in Mat- 
thew xxiv: 28. "The cock says, 'Suppose 
enemies only; I should have crowed in the night, 
and should have been killed.'" He who desires 
to inj^ure an enemy will easily find a pretext. The 
crowing of a cock at night is a bad omen. " The 
antelope say^s, 'When you eat without being tired, 
it has no relish. ' " The antelope being an active 
animal thinks that fatigue is necessary to the 
enjoyment of food. Exercise gives a man an 

In the eastern district of the Gold Coast, inhabited 
bv one hundred thousand people, the following 
pnrases are used: "The partridge says, *He 
who kills me does not grieve me, as he who plucks 
my feathers." "The cat says, *Stretchmg is 
sweet,' wherefore it does not buy a slave, " because 
slaves are a worry to their masters. "The 
young wild hog asked its mother, 'Mamma* 
what are the warts on thy face?' She replied, 
'By-and-by thou wilt have seen it already.'" 
"The European pigeon says, 'He who eats and 
gives to thee, for hun thou quenchest the fire.' ' ' 

Quotation Proverbs 361 

"If the land-tortoise would say, *(It is) for hard- 
ness' sake,* people would take up pads upon the 
earth" — that is, if it depended on the opinion of 
the hard-shelled tortoise. "The Adum saith, 
'My eye be my fetish'" — the Adum being a 
Still farther east are two million people speaking 
the Yoruba language. Of them Mr. R. F. Bur- 
ton says: "Havmg no ballads, no songs, and but 
few popular stories, their language abounds in 
*Owe,' or proverbs, which are at once the ethics 
and the poetics of the people." This district 
furnishes the following sayings: "The rat says 
he knows every day; out he does not know an- 
other day" — ^applied to improvident people. "The 
Okete says, * I undertand a specific day, another 
day I do not understand.' The Okete is a 
large rat. " The house rat said 'I do not feel so 
much offended with the man who killed me, as 
with him who dashed me on the ground after- 
wards.'" "A large stone crushed a lizard. 
It said, *So he who is stronger than one treats 
one.'" "The Ehoro said, *I care for nobody but 
the archer.'" The Ehoro is a hare or rabbit. 
"I am perishing,* cries the hare in the field; 'lam a 
spendthrift!* is the cry of the partridge on the 
bamtop." "The crow was going to Ibara;a 
breeze sprung up behind; *That will help me 
on famously, quoth the crow." 

In the southern Niagara district, inhabited by about 
sixty thousand people, may be heard such phrases 
as these: "The rat says, Tut plenty of food in the 
trap, for he takes his neck and goes. * " He risks 
his neck. "Ikukpa says he sees no snare above; 
should he see one he should die.** The Ikukpa 
is a guinea-fowl. "The crab says he does not 
fight nor quarrel, but he will bear his back in the 
calabash.* He will be captured. "The Kere 
says, * Men must think of doing work as the time 
for work has come.'*' The Kere is a bird that 
appears when clearing time on the plantations is 
at hand. "The chicken says the warmth of his 
mother's body is better than milk." 

The above proverbial expressions and explanations 
are given by R. F. Burton in his valuable book, 
Wii and Wisdom from West Africa, where most 

362 Curiosities in Proverbs 

of the West African proverbs quoted elsewhere 
are to be found. 

** The five Pandavas they say are tiiree, like tiie legs of a 
bed, but there are only two/* said he, showing one 
finger. (Telugu). 

This absurd saying is applied to a stupid aooountant. 

The fool says, ** My friend is meant, not L*' (Oji— West 

Thus the fool replies to the warning that is meant for 
his good and shows his foolishness. 

"Thine enemy saith, *Thou wishest my death.*" 
"Saith the liar, *My witness is an Akyem."* 
(Accra — ^West African). "The calabash having 
saved them they say, *Let us cut it for a drinking 
cup*" — a proverb expressing base ingratitude. 
The gourd having saved them in famine is to be 
sacrificed to make a drinking cup. "The trader 
never confesses that he has sold all his goods, but 
when a:^ed he will say, 'Trade is a little better.' ** 
Proverbs xx:i4. (Yoruba — ^West African). "The 
yawner says he does not walk alone; if there be 
no one to follow him, the leaves of the trees will 
fall." Spoken in the belief that yawning is 
infectious, and applied to one who being con- 
demned to death seeks an opportunity to kill 
someone that he may not die alone. (Efik — 
West African). 

They invited the donkey to a wedding, '' Either wood or 
water is wanted", he said. (Osmanli). 

An inferior is not invited unless his services are 

The kettte reproached the kitchen rooon. '*Thou blackee, ** 
he said; '* Thou idle babbler. *' (Arabian). 

See Bible Proverbs — New Testament: "Why be- 
holdest thou the mote in thy brother's eye, but 
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? * ' 

The Egyptian kitchen spoon to which reference is 
here made is cut out of wood. 

** The meal cheap and shoon dear,** quo* the soixter's wife, 
" rd like to hear. " (Scotch). 

Quotation Proverbs 363 

** There's an unco splutter/' quo' the sow i' the gutter. 


^ There's baith meat and music here," quo' the dog when 
he ate the piper's bag. (Scotch). 

^ There's little to reck," quo' the knave to his neck. 


^ There's nae ill in a merry mind," quo' the wife when she 
whistled through the kirk. (Scotch). 

They gave a cucumber to the beggar. '* I do not like it," 
he said; *' It is crooked. " (Osmanli). 

They say, " Go into a town to settle"; and they do not say, 
" Go into a town to boast. " (Oji — West African). 

Addressed to one who is about to change his place 
of residence. When you are settled in your new 
home it behooves you to identify yourself with the 
people and make their interests yours, rather 
than boast of your former position and influence. 

To him who is larger than thou art, say '*I am a dwarf." 

(Wolof—West African). 

Acknowledge the greatness of the man who is greater 
than thou art. 

Trouble does not say *' Stop I I am come. " (Osmanli). 

** Twa heads are better than ane," as the wife said when 
she and her dog gaed to the market. (Scotch). 

"Twa heads are better than ane, though they're but 
sheep's anes.' * "Twa blacks winna mak ae white." 
"Twa cats and ae mouse, twa mice in ae house, 
twa dogs and ae bane, ne'er will agree in ane.' 
" Twa fools in ae house are a pair ower mony. " 
**Twa gudes seldom meet — ^what's gude for the 
plant is iU for the peat." "Twa hands may do 
m ae dish, but ne'er in ae purse." "Two hungry 
mdtiths makes the third a glutton." "Twa 
things ne'er be angry wi' — ^what ye can help 
and what ye canna. "Twa words maun gang 
to that bai;gain." "Twa to fight and ane to 
redd. " This proverb indicates the proper number 
of children in a family: two to quarrel with each 

364 Cuxiosities in Proverbs 

other and a third to settle disputes. " Twa wolves 
may wony ae sheep." "Twa hangings on ae 
widdy mak's twa pair o' shoon to the hangman, 
but only ae ploy to the people" — two executions 
on one gallows make two pair of shoes for the 
hangman, but only one merry meeting for the 
people. "Two heads may lie upon ae ood, and 
nane ken whaur the luck lies. " (Scotch). 

** TuxiHaboat is fair pLavi" as tiie devil said to tiie smoke- 
jack, arish). 

** Unsicker, unstable,** quo* the wave to tiie cable. (Scotch)* 

"To be insecure is to be unsafe," said the ocean 
wave when it beat against the cable. 

Until somebody says, ^ It is you,*' there will be no quarr^ 
in the milL (Osmanli). 

«< We hounds slew the hare,** quo* the messan. (Scotch). 

The messan is a mongrel dog. 

"*We hounds killed the hare,' quoth the lap-dog." 

** Wha can help sickness,** quo* the wife when she lay in the 
gutter. (Scotch). 

When you are not sleepy, you say, " I have no sleeping 
place.** (Oji — ^West African). 

But when you are sleepy you will be content to sleep 

"Necessity seeks bread where it is to be found." 

Wind and sea combat ** This time,** said tiie ships, ** we 
shall have the worst of it.** (Arabian). 

When there is contention for authority and power 
between political riv£ds, it is not the government 
so much as the people who suffer. 

With the mouth the Akparo proclaims its fat. crying, 
''Nothing but fat I Nothing but fatl** (Yoruba— 

West African). 

The Akparo is a partridge. The proverb is applied 
to anyone who is guilty of self-praise. 



A babbler, a dog without a tail. (Persian). 

A bad friend is like a smith who, If he does not bum you 
with fire, will injure you with smoke. (Arabian). 

A great man's word is like the elephant's tusk I (Bengalese). 

The elephant's tusk once exposed cannot be con- 
cealed. The great man's words once spoken 
cannot be withdrawn and are remembered by 
those who heard. 

All come together, Uke a beating to a dog. (Sps^sh). 

"Misfortunes are close to one another." (Latin). 
"Misfortunes come by forties." "Misfortunes 
seldom come alone. "One misfortune calls 
another." "One misfortune is the eve of an- 
other." (English). "One misfortune brings 
on another." (Portuguese, Dutch). "To the 
wicked, misfortunes came triple." (Modem 
Greek). "Whither goest thou, Misfortune? " 
"To where there is more." (Spanish, Danish). 

An eye without light, as a tongue without reason. (Turkish). 

A physician curing the people, while he himself is dis- 
tempered. (Arabian). 

Used as a simile, as though preceded by the word 

As akin to a peat'sHSihip and Sheriffdom as a sieve is to a 
riddle. (Scotch). 

A peat — or pet — was a term applied to a lawyer who 
was under the patronage of some particular judge. 


366 Curiosities in Proverbs 

As a wolfs mouth. (Spanish). 
Very dark. 

As had as manying the devil's daughter and living with the 
old folks. (English). 

As black as the devil. (English). 

"As black as a coal." "As black as a raven." 
"As black as scx>t." "As black as jet." "As 
black as ink." "As black as a crow." "As 
black as my hat." "As black as my boot." 

As bold as Beaucamp. (English). 

"Of this surname there were many Earls of Warwick, 
amongst whom [saith Dr. Fuller] I conceive 
Thomas, the first of that name, gave chief occasion 
to this proverb; who in the year 1346 with one 
squire and six archers fought in hostile manner 
with a hundred armed men at Hogges in Normandy 
and overthrew them, sla3dng sixty Normans, and 
giving the ^ole fleet means to land. " — John Ray. 

There were others by the name of Beaucamp that 
gave celebrity to the simile because of their 
bravery in battle. 

As clean as a whistle. (English). 

A strange simile, but easily understood by any boy 
who has made a whistle out of a willow or ash 
stem and observed the clean, smooth, white wood 
when the bark is drawn off. 

As clean gane as if the cat had lick'd the place. (Sootch). 

As cross as nine highways. (English). 

"As cross as a bear with a sore head." "As cross 
as two sticks. " (English). 

Crosspatch was a name applied in the Middle Ages 
to an ill-natured person. In old England a 
domestic fool or jester was called a patch. Cardi- 
nal Wolsey had two fools who sometimes went by 
the name of Patch, though they had other names. 
The word, as applied to a jester, was probably 
derived from the fact that domestic fools wore 
patched, or patchwork, garments. 

Similes and Comparisons 367 

"Crosspatch, draw the latch, 
Sit by the fire and spin; 

Take a cup, and drink it up, 

Then call your neighbouxs in. 


As dead as a door-nalL (English). 

This simile has been in use for centuries. The 
oldest manuscripts substitute "door tree" for 
"door nail." There is no probability that the 
reference was to the nail struck by the knocker, 
but rather to the door tree or timber which came 
in time to be heavily studded with large-headed 
nails driven into the wood both for strength and 

"Faith without feet [works] 3rs febelere [feebler] 
than naught 
And ded as a dorenayle [or door tree]." 

William Langland, 

"Look on me well; I have eaten no meat these five 
days; yet come thou and thy hve men, and if 
I do not leave you all as dead as a door-nail, I 
pray God I may never eat grass more." 

Shakespeare: Henry VI. 

"Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind 
I do not mean to say that I know, of my own 
knowledge, what there is particularly dead about 
a door-nail. I might have been inclined myself 
to regard a coffin nail as the deadest piece of 
ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our 
ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed 
hands shall not disttu-b it, or the country's done 
for. You will therefore permit me to repeat 
emphatic^y that Marley was as dead as a door- 
nail. " — Charles Dickens. 

"As dead as a mackerel." "As dead as mutton." 
"As dead as charity." "As dead as a herring." 

As deaf as a beetle. (English). 

See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: "Nothing 80 
deaf as an adder. " 

The reference in this simile is not to an insect but 
to a wooden mallet, as in the sayings, "Between 

368 Curiosities in Proverbs 

the beetle and the block" and "As dull as a 

"As deaf as a post." "As deaf as a white cat'* 


As dizzy as a goose. (English). 

As dmnk as David's sow. (English). 

There are a multitude of proverbs and proverbial 
similes that relate to drmking and dnmkenness. 
John Ray in his Collection o/ English Proverbs 
gives a list of twelve proverbial phrases and 
sentences belonging to drink and drinking and 
twenty-one paraphrases of one drunk; but none 
is more cunous than this simile that is said to 
have originated in a visit that some people made 
to an alehouse in Hareford, England, kept by a 
man named David Lloyd whose wife was a heavy 
drinker. Being told that Lloyd's sow had six 
legs, the visitors were anxious to see it and went 
at once to the sty where it was kept. On reach- 
ing the place they found that the proprietor's wife 
had turned the sow out of its pen and had thrown 
herself down in the animal's place to sleep off the 
effects of intoxication. Thereafter the woman 
was referred to as David's sow and the phrase 

< came into use as a simile of drunkenness. 

As dull as '< Dun in the Mire.'' (English). 

The allusion is to the old English game of "Dun in 
the Mire," in which a log of wood representing 
a cart horse was placed on the floor. Then the 
cry was raised that Dun had stuck in the mire 
and two of the players began at once to pull the 
lo^ away from their companions, sometimes 
usmg ropes for the purpose. Every effort was 
made to prevent its removal and at the same 
time to direct the rolling and tumbling of the log 
in a way that would cause it to fall on the toes 
of the players. When the two players found 
themselves unequal to the task of removing the 1(^, 
others were called to their assistance until finaify 
the log was drawn away and Dun was said to be 
"pullw out of the mire." 

Smiles and Comparisons 369 

"As dull as a Dutchman." "As dull as a beetle." 
"As dull as ditch water." "As dull as a Fro." 
(A Fro is a blunt wedge.) "As dull as the debate 
of Dutch burgomasters on cheese parings and 
candle ends. " (English). 

**Tut, dun's the mouse, the constable's own word: 
If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire 
Of this sir-reverence love, wherein thou stick'st 
Up to the ears. Come, we bum daylight, ho! " 

Shakespeare: Romeo and JuUet. 

A semon without a quotation from St. Augustine is like 
olla without bacon. (Spanish). 

As false as a Scot. (Scotch). 

This simile, used in England as well as in Scotland, 
sometimes takes the form of "Fair and false like a 

"I hope that nation generally deserves not such an 
imputation; and could wish that we Englishmen 
were less partial to ourselves, and censorious of 
our neighbours. " — John Ray, 

"Such were the terms in which the English used to 
speak of their poor northern neighbours, foigetting 
that their own encroachments upon the independ- 
ence of Scotland obliged the weaker nation to 
defend themselves by policy as well as force. 
The disgrace must be divided, between Edward I. 
and IIL who enforced their domination over a 
free country, and the Soots who were compelled 
to take compulsory oaths without any purpose 
of keeping them.'^ — Sir Walter Scott: The 

"The English appear not to have borne a much 
better character in respect to good faith them- 
selves, for *Foy d'Anglais ne vaut un poitevin* 
expressed the opinion prevalent in the Middle 
Ages as to English treachery. This seems to be 
a favourite complaint against foreigners, for the 
Finns say 'German faith,* ironically, as the 
Romans said * Punica fides,* and Juvenal wrote of 
'Graecia mendax,' and the French spoke of, and 
perhaps still speak of, * Le perfide Anglais.' The 
Russian proverb asserts that the Gredcs only tell 
the truth once a year; while the Arabs express 


370 Curiosities in Proverbs 

their opinion of Western veracity in the saying, 
'List to a Frank and hear a fable.*" — Andrew 

"As false as Waghom and he was nineteen times 
falser than the deil" — ^referring to the fabulous 
Waghom, king of liars. (Scotch). 

As good as goose skins that never man had enough of. 


"As good as fowl of a fair day. " "As good as gold. " 
"As good as ever water wet." "As good as ever 
went endways." "As good as ever flew in the 
air. " "As good as ever the ground went upon. " 
"As good as ever drove top over tiled house." 
"As good as ever twanged." As good as any 
between Bagshot and Baw-waw" — ^which was 
only the br^dth of a street. "As good as any 
in Kent or Christendom." "As good as George- 
a-Green. ' * (English) . 


As grave as a gate post. (English). 

"As grave as a judge." "As grave as an owl. 

As hasty as Hopkins, that came to jaU over night and was 
hanged the next morning. (English). 

Quoted by Thomas Fuller in his Gnomologia. 

This old sa3dng may have suggested the American 
expression, "Don't hurry Hopkins," that is often 
applied to people who are slow m paying their debts. 
It has been claimed that the American phrase 
was first used in Kentucky, where a certain man 
by the name of Hopkins gave a promissory note on 
which he wrote: "The said Hopkins is not to be 
hurried in paying the above. " 

As high as Gilderoy. (Sootch). 

There were two famous Scotch thieves by the name 
of Gilderoy — a seventeenth-century Gilderoy 
who robbed Cardinal Richelieu and Oliver Crom- 
well; and an eighteenth-centuiy Gilderoy who 
was hung in Edim)urgh for stealing sheep, horses, 
and oxen. As Haman was hung on a gallows 
fifty cubits high (Esth. v: 4), so it was thought 
necessary to hang Gilderoy on one that was higher 

Similes and Comparisons 371 

than those that were generally used for thieves, 
and one thirty feet high was set up for him. It 
was "so high he hung," says an old writer, that 
"he looked like a kite in the clouds. " 

"Of Gilderoy sae fraid they were 
They bound him muckle strong, 

Till Edinburgh they led him thair 
And on a gallows hong; 

They hong hun high above the rest, 
He was so trim a boy. " 

" Higher than Gilderoy's kite. " (Sc»tch). 

As lazy as Lttdlam's dog, that leaned his head against the 
wall to bark. (English). 

Ludlam was a famous sorceress who lived in a cave 
near Famham, England. It is said that her dog 
was so lazy that he would not bark, except in a 
feeble way, when anyone approached. The 
proverb is quoted by Thomas Ftdler, John Ray, 
and others. 

"As poor as Job's turkey, that had to lean against 
a fence to gobble,*' was evidently suggested by 
the " Ludlam 's dog" proverb, though the first 
part of the sajdng has been in use many centuries. 

Three other maxims of similar construction should 
be noted: The seaman's expression, "As lazy as 
Joe, the marine, who laid down his musket to 
sneeze"; the American phrase, "As poor as Job's 
turkey, that had but one feather in his tail"; and 
the English simile, "As lazy as David Lawrence's 
(Larrence's) dog." David Larrence was an 
imaginary man who was supposed to preside 
over lazy people, as David Jones (probably a 
corruption of Jonah) was thought to preside over 
the evil spirits of the sea — ^hence the familiar saying 
used by sailors, "He has gone to David Jones's 
locker,^' meaning that he died or was drowned. 

"He dies, by not a single sigh deplor'd 
To David Jones's lodker let him go, 
And with old Neptune booze below." 

John WolcoU 

As Hka as chalk to cheese. (English). 

A very old simile expressmg dissimilarity. Some- 
times it is said, "Th^ are no more alike than 

372 Curiosities in Proverbs 

chalk is like cheese/' and, "I cannot make chalk 
of one and cheese of another." I cannot show 
favouritism. Dissimilarity is also expressed in 
such phrases as these: "As like as an apple to a 
lobster." "As like as an apple to an oyster." 
"As like as a dock to a daisy." "As like as 
fourpence to a groat." "As like as ninepence to 

"She had a peculiar favour for Markham herself; 
and, moreover, he was, according to her phrase, 
as handsome and personable a young man as was 
in Oxfordshire; and this Scottish scarecrow 
was no more to be compared to him than chalk 
to cheese. "—Sir Walter Scott: Woodstock, 

"Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese, 
For, though they speke and teche wel, 
Thei don hemself thereof no del. " — John Gower, 

"For, who this case seardieth, shall soon see in it. 
That as wdl agreeath thy comparison in these, 
As like to compare in taste, chalk and cheese; 
Or alike in colour to deem ink and chalk. " 

John Heywood. 

As mad as a hatter. (English). 

"I have never seen any satisfactory solution of this 
saying; but it appears from the dedication to the 
Hospital of Incurable F0O/5, quarto, 1600, that there 
was at that time living an eccentric character, 
perhaps not possessed of superfluous intelligence, 
known as John Hodgson, alias John Hatter, alias 
John of Paul's Churchyard. Possibly we may here 
nave the original 'mad hatter.' Nor is it unlikely 
that he is the same individual whom we find as 
John o' the Hospital in Armin's Two Maids of 
Moreclacke, 1609." — C. Carew Hazlitt. 

As mad as a March hare. (English). 

It is believed that hares are tmusuaUy shy and 
wild in the month of March, that being their 
rutting season. 

Erasmus renders the simile — "As mad as a marsh 
hare" and explains that "hares are wilder in 
marshes from the absence of hedges and cover." 

"Contrary to reason ye stamp and ye $tare; 

Similes and Comparisons 373 

Ye fret and ye fume, as mad as a March hare. " 

John Heywood. 

As mad as the baiting bull of Stamford. (English). 

Reference is here made to an old-time annual diver- 
sion, at Stamford in Lincolnshire, England, six 
weeks before Christmas, in which a bml was set 
loose in the streets and p)ursued by dubs until 
the animal, maddened by its tormentors, became 
blindly furious. A full account of this cruel pas- 
time IS given in R. Butcher's Survey of Stamford. 

As probable as to see an ox fly. (Spanish). 

As proud and as poor as a Scot. (Scotch). 

"As proud as a peacock. ** "As proud as an apothe- 
cary. " (English). "As proud as a Highlander. " 
"As proud as a Gascon." (Scotch). "As proud 
as a burdock." (Welsh). 

"We say 'proud as a Scotchman,' murmured the 

Duke of Buckingham. 
"And we say 'proud as a Gascon/" replied D'Artag- 

nan; 'The Gascons are the Scots of France. 
Alexander Dumas: The Three Guardsmen. 

As queer as Dick's hatband. (English). 

"As queer as Dick's hatband, made of pea straw, 
that went nine times round and would not meet 
at last." "As queer as Dick's hatband which 
was made of sand." "As fine as Dick's hat- 
band." "As tight as Dick's hatband." All 
English proverbial sayings referring to "Dick's 
hatband are jeers. Didc was none other than 
Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, who 
was Lord Protector from 1658 to 1659. Crom- 
well's regal honors were as a rope of sand. 

As safe as a gabbart (Scotch). 

Gabbert — a small sailing vessel used on the River 

"But fair fa' the weaver that wrought the weft o't — 
I swung and bobbit younder as safe as a gabbert 
that's moored by a three-ply cable at the Broom- 
sdaw." — Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy. 

374 Curiosities in Proverbs 

As sick as a cushion. (English). 

"As sick as a horse. " "As sick as a cat with eating 
a rat." "As sick as a dog." "As sick as a toad. 

As soIHaxy as aspanic;iis. (Spanish). 

As the asparagus stalks are separated from each 
other, so the man without kmdred or friends is 
alone in the world. 

As strong as CnchuHin. (Gaelic). 

"Cuchullin is one of the prindpal characters in 
Scots-Irish legendary poetry and history, and is 
represented as not only a prodigy of strength but 
gifted with every manly grace, a Celtic Achilles 
and something more. In the wonderful old Irish 
l^end of the *Tain Bo Cuailgne,' he figures as 
the hero of the great struggle, in which he perished 
fighting against fearful odds, simply through 
his magnificent sense of honour and chival^, 
knowing perfectly what he risked. This strange 
weird story is embodied by Mr. O'Grady in his 
History of Ireland. " — Alexander Nicolson, 

As unerring of hand as Connlaoch. (Gaelic). 

Connlaoch, son of Cuchullin mentioned in preced- 
ing simile. 

As uneven as a badger. (English). 

It was an old-time belief that a badger's legs were 
longer on one side than on the other — Whence the 

As wanton as a wet hen. (Scotch). 

Applied to people who are worried or down-spirited. 

As welcome as water in a leaking ship. (English). 

" As welcome as water in one's shoes. " " As wdcome 
as snow in harvest." "As welcome as snow in 
summer. ' * (English) . 

Flourishing like a weed beside a cesspooL (Malayan). 

Friends are like fiddle strings, they matma be screwed 
ower tlcht. (Scotch). 

Similes and Comparisons 375 

Good people are like the cocoanuti the bad like the jujube. 


Great talkers are like broken pitchers, evexything runs out 
of them. (Persian). 

He flits about like a grasshopper. (Tamil). 

He gims like a sheep's head in a pair of tangs. (Scotch). 

Gims — grins or snarls — is fretful. 

"Little Andrew, the wretch, has been makin' a 
totum wi' his father's ae razor; an* the pair man's 
trying to shave himsel yonder, an' giman Hke a 
sheep^s head on the tangs." — Hugh Miller. 

**Gim when ye bind and laugh when ye lowse," 
"He shall either gim (grin), or man fin (Fine)." 
He has repeated a slander concerning me and he 
shall either tell who the author of it is or take 
the punishment himself. "He gims like a 
sprained puggy"— or, as the English would say, 
"like a Cheshire cat.' " 

He glowers like a duck harkenin' to thunder. (Scotch). 
" He glowers like a wullicat. " (Scotch). 

He hops about like a cat with a burnt paw. (Telugu). 

He is as hard as a crocodile. (Accra— West African). 

"As hard as a horn. " "As hard as a rock. " (Eng- 

He is like a snake which has eaten earth. (Telugu). 

He is stupid, like a snake that has eaten earth. " He 
is as stupid as a cork. " (Russian). 

It is an old belief among Hindoos that snakes do 
sometimes eat earth. 

Ha is like the bagpipes, he never makes a noise tiU his 
beUy'sfuU. (6ish). 

He looks as if he were hatching eggs. (Spanish). 

See Singular Proverbs: "He appears as if he ate 
roasted spits" — alwajrs avoiding others and re- 
tiring to his own fireside. 

376 Cmiosities in PcoTerbs 

"He looks as tbough he were roastiiig spits.** He 
walks stiffly, not reoogniztog anyone. "He kioks 
as though he ate a stew-pan." He is restless. 
"He looks as thou^^h he had sc^ fish.'* He is 
eager to pick up his winnings at a game. "He 
lodes as tiiough he were fed by ounces." He is 
veiy thin. "He looks as though witdies had 
sudced him." He is mere skin and bones. "He 
looks as though he would not disturb the water." 
He affects simpHdty, concealing talent or evil 
purpose. "He looks as though he had been bred 
m the mountains of Batuecas. " He appears like 
a rustic. "He looks falling and he is grasping." 
He di^mulates. "He looks like a oocoanut." 
He is ugly in his appearance. (Spanish). 

Ha resembles a shdl-cistter's saw. (Bengalese). 

He gives advice and assistance to both parties in a 
dSpute, but is shrewd enough to doso in a way that 
will accrue to his own benefit. Like a shell-cutter*s 
saw, his counsel and help cuts both ways. 

He sHs like a tiger withdrawing his daws. (Malayan). 

See Grouping Proverbs: "If your neighbour has 
made a pSgiimage to Mecca once, watdi him; 
if twice, avoid his sodety; if three times, move 
into another street. " 

He's like a crane upon a pair of stilts. (Scotch). 

The stilts here referred to are crutdies used in 
crossing shallow rivers and streams. In the 
district of Bordeaux these stilts are used by the 
peasants in walking through the loose sand that 
IS common in the district. 

"I would have known thee, boy, in the lands of 
Bordeaux, had I met thee marching like a crane 
on a pair of stilts. "—Sir Walter Scott: Quentin 

He's like Smith's dog, so weQ used to spades that he'll no 
bum. (Scotch). 

He tipples so much that it does not seem to hurt 

He speaks like piercing arrows. (Tamil). 

Similes and Comparisons 377 

His coming is like the flowering of the fig tree. (Tamil). 
He does not come. 

EQs talking is like vegetables* (Marathi). 
He speaks softly, but not strongly. 

EQs tongue is as long as a baker's shoveL (Osmanli). 

Referring to the shovel used by bakers in removing 
bread irom the oven. 

The Osmanli peasant also sa}^: "His tongue is like 
a biscuit-sdler's shovel" — ^very long. 

His tongue moves like a beggar's clap-dish. (English). 

See Obscure Proverbs: '*He claps his dish at a wrong 
man's door." 

It is curious to note that door-knockers were at 
one time called ''lazar clappers," because of the 
fact that the rattling sound of the knocker was 
thought to be like tlmt made by the leper's clap- 
dish as he went about crying "unclean" and 
b^^ging for alms. 

Honest as the skin between his brows. (English). 

A very old proverbial simile, the force of which is 
difficult to discover. 

'^ Goodman Veiges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: 
an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt as, 
God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, 
honest as the skin between his brows. " 

— Shakbspbarb: Much Ado about Nothing, 

I feel the heat fierce as a tiger. (Bengalese). 

I see he is like a horse's bite. (Bengalese). 
He is headstrong and obstinate. 

It is with law as with dykes, in whatever part they are 
broken the rest becomes useless; no ease for the 
mouth when one tooth is achiog. (Chinese). 

It was like a dog's dream to him. (Spanish). 

He imagined that he was doing something of gfreat 
importance, whereas it amounted to very httle. 

378 Curiosities in ProTerbs 

Lika a bog of moiiey in a lookiiig-glass. (Tdtigu). 

"What you see in the minor is not in the mirror. " 

Like a beggar at a biidaL (Scotch). 

He accepts an invitation to the wedding, and gives 
good advice to the bride, but presents her with 
no present. 

like a bfoom bound widi a silk tiiread* (Malayan). 
Like a cat on a wall watching his position. (Tamil). 

Like a cock upon ahiUocky chuckling without featiienu 

Like a man who, having won his suit at law, cfauddes 
over his triumph, though he has spent more than 
he has gained in defraying the expenses of liti- 

Like a collier's sack, bad without, worse within. (Spanish) . 

Applied to people whose personal appearance is such 
tiiat one would be justified in thinking that they 
were mean and contemptible. 

Like a cried fair. (Scotch). 

It was the custom in olden times to give publidtv 
to fairs by an announcement outside the kirk 
door after the r^^ular Sunday morning's service. 
Having given his announcement, the crier informed 
the wor3iipers who had gathered about him that 
certain sales would take place in the neighbourhood. 
This practice gave rise to the above simile in 
speakmg of a well-advertised event. 

Like a 6og with a beU. (Spanish). 

He took offence at what was said, and fled from 
the company like a dog with a bell tied to its 

Like a hunchback making a bow. (Chinese). 
Used in speaking of overdone politeness. 

Similes and Comparisons 379 

Like a mad dog, he snaps at himself. (Afghan). 

Like a man who would not wash his feet in the tank because 
he was angry with it. (Tamil). 

Like a paper tiger. (Chinese). 

He makes a great bluster about what he will do, 
but he is perfectly harmless to injure anyone. 

Like a man butting a mountain. (Telugu). 

"Like dogs barking at a mountain.'* "Like dogs 
barking at an elephant." (Telugu). 

Like a rat falling into a scale and weighing itself. (Chinese) . 

Like a man who puts too higli an estimate on his 
own worth and ability. 

Like a rocket. (Chinese). 

Used in referring to a spendthrift who flings away 
his money on the slightest pretext. 

Like a sickle carried in the waist of a man climbing up a 
hill. (Telugu). 

Applied to people who impose unnecessary difficulties 
and dangers on themselves when undertaking 
any enterprise. 

Like a snake in a monkey's paw. (Telugu). 

The man does not dare to carry out what he has 
begun, and he does not dare to cease his efforts; 
like the monkey with the snake, who is afraid to 
hold on or let go. 

Like a snake that has a head at both ends. (Tamil) 

Like a sow playing on a trump. (Scotch). 

See Retorting Proverbs: "You may catch a hare 
with a tabor as soon. " 

The trump here referred to is a jew's-harp, 

"Did you ever before hear of an ass playing upon a 
lute? " "A sow to a lute. " "A sow to a fiddle. " 
(English). "As trews become a sow." (Gaelic). 
"An ass at the lyre. " (Latin). 

380 Curiosities in Proverbs 

Like a wic^t oot o' anifher w«xl<L (Scotch). 

He looks pale and weak, like one who is in ill health. 

Like CnB3^ucm*a kiik— there's as mony dogs as folk, and 
neither room for red nor rock. (Scotch). 

'*In a remote pastoral r^on, like that of Cran- 
shaws, lying in the midst of the Lammermoor 
Hills, it is, or was, usual for shepherds' dogs to 
accompany their masters to the church, and in time 
of severe stormy weather few people except the 
shepherds, who are accustomed to be out in all 
weathers, oould attend divine service, and in 
such circumstances it may have occurred that 
the dogs may have equalled in number the ra- 
tional hearers of the word. We have heard the 
saying applied bv bustling servant girls to a scene 
where three or four dogs were loimging about a 
kitchen hearth and impeding the work. — George 

Like getting on the shoulder of a man sinking in the mud* 


Like Jfnging a lantern on a pole, which is seen afar hot 
gives no light below. (Chinese). 

Like giving money to charities far removed and 
neglecting those near at hand. 

Like going to Benares and bringing back an ass's egg. 


"Like going to Benares and bringing back dog's 
hair.'^ (Telugu). 

Like lettuce, like lips. (English). 

"An obsolete proverb translated from the Latin, 
similes habent labra lactucas, ... It means that 
bad things suit each other — coarse meat suits 
coarse mouths, as an ass eats the thistles for his 
salad. " — Robert Nares, 

Like measuring the air. (Telugu). 
Like having idle daydreams. 

Like negro's hair, a tangled business. (Osmanli). 

Similes and Comparisons 381 

Like playing games with your grandmother. (Tdugu). 

Sometimes young people will make sport with their 
elders at a wedding. The Hteral rendering of the 
simile is, " Throwing scarlet water over her. " 

The saying is used when old people are treated with 

Like pulling a bear's hairs out with tweezers. (Telugu). 
A never ending business. 

Like patting a mountain under one's head and searching for 
stones. (Telugu). 

Like reading a portion of the Veda to a cow about to gore 
you. (Tamil). 

Like seeking feathers from turtles. (Cingalese). 

Like a donkey's tail, it neither stretched nor shrank. 


Like the gardener's dog, that neither eats greens nor will 
let o&ers eat them. (Spanish). 

See iEsop's fable of ** The Dog in the Manger." 

Like the Kelandman's gun, that needed a new lock, a new 
stock, and a new barreL (Scotch). 

Like Trishankur's mounting to heaven! (Sanskrit). 

The simile refers to an old fable of a king who, de- 
siring to ascend to heaven in his body, was 
hurled down to earth. His head, striking the 
ground, was buried so that his feet remained 
upward pointing to the sky. 

The saying is applied to people who lose what they 
have by seeking the tmattainable. 

Life is like the moon — now dark, now full. (Polish). 

" Like the moon shining in the desert '' (Cingalese) . 

Making a fool understand is like making a camel leap a 
ditch. (Turkish). 

382 Curiosities in Proverbs 

More easy to be broken fhan the house of a spider* 


A simile taken from the Koran. 

Passions are like iron thrown into the furnace, as long 
as it is in the fire you can make no vessel out of it» 


A ^mile taken from the Talmud. 

Rain in the morning is like a woman tucking up her sleeves 
for a fight. (Japanese). 

There is nothing to fear in either one or the other. 

Rich as an alum-seller. (Osmanli). 

"Alum is used as an amulet to preserve children 
from the evil eye. A little ring of blue glass, a bit 
of alum, a verse of the Koran, sewn up in a tri- 
angular bag, are fixed on the child s takiye' 
(scull-cap). Most Oriental famiUes, even Christ- 
ians, practise this superstition. They even 
employ it for their cattle, horses, etc. Hence 
the alum-seller has a good trade.'* — E.J.Davis, 

Scarcer than the nose of the lion. (Arabian). 

She is quiet as a wasp in one's nose. (English). 

Strife is like the plank in a bridge — ^the longer it exists 
the firmer it becomes. (Hebrew). 

"Strife is like the aperture of a leakage: as [the 
aperture] widens, so [the stream of water] in- 
creases. (Hebrew). 

The difference is as great as that between an elephant 
and a mosquito. (Tamil). 

The doctrine that enters only into the eye and eai is like 
the repast one takes in a dream. (Chinese). 

The law is like the aade of a carriage — ^you can turn it 
wherever you please. (Russian). 

The matter drags like a mist without wind. (Bulgarian). 

Similes and Comparisons 383 

This is stranger tiian tiiat, and that is stranger than this. 


To be like a Castanet. (Spanish). 
To be very merry. 

To forgive the unrepentant is like making ^ctores on 
water. (Japanese). 

Worldly prosperity is like writing on water. (Tdugu). 

You are drank as a snake. (Efik — West African). 

Yott are like the fruit of the iSX tree. (Bengalese). 

The tAl-tree fruit falls far from the tree on which it 
grew — Whence the simile is used in referring to 
servants who are nowhere to be found when 
their services are required, and to people who 
neglect their kindred and friends and he^ stran- 
gers who live far away. 


[The flfures foUowiag the dates ere the munben of the pages oil 
which qnotstioiis may be found.] 

Abira, Rabbi, li6 

Abu Bekr, a.d. 573-^34. ii7 

Abtd Kcksim Mansur, a.d. 940-1020, 158 

^sop, died about B.C. 561, 359 

Alger, WiUiam R., a.d. 1022-1905, 41 

Andrews, William, a.d. 1890, 254 

Aristotle, B.C. 384-322, 354 

Austin, St., A.D, ?-6o4, 355 

Bacon, Francis, a.d. i 561-1626, 41, 42 

Bigelow, John, a.d. 1817-1911, 230 

Bland, Robert, A.D. 18 14, 229 

Brand, John, a.d. i 744-1 806, 324 

Brewer, E. Cobham, a.d. 1810-1897, 84, 131 

Browne, Sir Thomas, a.d. 1605-1682, loi 

Buckhardt, J. L., a.d. 1784-1817, 53, 76, 133, 160, 164, 

173, 179, 247, 278, 335, 339. 342, 352 
Burger, Gottfried A,, a.d. 1 747-1 794, 223 
Bums, Robert, a.d. 1 759-1796, 95i 35^ 
Burton, Richard F,, a.d. 1821-1890, 64, 283, 322, 36X 
CiBsar, Caius Julius, B.C. 100-44, 356 
Catullus, Caius Valerius, B.C. 87-54, 354 
Chambers, Robert, a.d. i 802-1 871, 86 
Chaucer, Geoffrey, a.d. 1340-1400, 104 
Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, a.d. 1694-1773, 2 
Cheviot, Andrew, a.d. 1896, 50, 62, 199, 240, 369 
Child, Francis J., A.D. 1825-1896, 257 

as 385 

386 Authors Quoted 

Christian, John, A.D. 1890, 28, 42, 67, 71 » 2Q3» 226, 307^ 

309, 346 
Cohen, A., a.d. 191 i, 63, 70 

Collins, John, a.d. 1823, 239 

Congreve, William, a.d. 1670-1729, 275, 305 

Cornwall, Barry (Bryan Waller Procter), a.d. i 787-1 874, 44 

Cowan, Frank, a.d. i 844-1906, 298 

Cowper, William, a.d. 1731-1800, 102, 105, 304 

Davis, E. J,, .A.D. 1897, 237, 382 

Davis, John Francis, a.d. i 795-1890, 45 

Dickens, Charles, a.d. 1812-1870, 367 

Disraeli, Isaac, a.d. i 766-1 848, iii., 24, 36, 44, 258 

Dumas, Alexander, a.d. 1803-1870, 373 

Dykes, Oswald, a.d. 1707, 191, 193, 235, 301, 325 

Eliot,'George'QAary Axin Evans — Lewes, Cross), a.d. 1819- 

1880, 107 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, a.d. 1803-1882, 15, 31, 42, 228 
Fabyan, Robert, a.d. ?-i5i3, 317 
Fleming, A., 209 

Franklin, Benjamin, a.d. 1706-1790, ill, 130, 221, 305 
Fuller, Thomas, a.d. 1608-1661, 46, 57 
Gay, John, a.d. 1685-1732, 127, 325 
Ceikie, Cunningham, a.d. i 824-1906, 118, 119, 127 
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, a.d. i 749-1832, 189 
Goldsmith, Oliver, a.d. i 728-1 774, 11 1 
Gower, John, a.d. 1325-1408, 255, 372 
Cracian, Baltasar, a.d. 1601-1658, 266 
Greene, Robert, a.d. i 560-1 592, 350 
Grierson, George A,, a.d. 1 851, 71, 307 
Grose, Francis, a.d. 1731-1791, 57, 152, 162, 245, 323, 330, 

Gurdon, P. R, T,, a.d. 1903, 337 

Hackwood, Frederick W., a.d. 191 i, 295, 315 
Hazlitt, W, Carew, a.d. 1834, ^^Si 240f 24i> 37^ 
Heam, Lafcadio, a.d. 1850-1904, 49, 59, 224 
Henderson, George, A.d. 1856, 256, 380 
Henry, Matthew, a.d. 1662-1714, loi, 115 
Herrick, Robert, a.d. 1591-1674, 146, 171, 178 


Authors Quoted 387 

Hesiod, about B.C. 776, 351 

Heywood, John, a.d. 1497-1580, 61, 100, 119, 165, 176, 

200, 252, 297, 305, 325, 350, 372 
HiUel, Rabbi, B.C. 60-A.D. 10, 116 
Hislop, Alexander, a.d. 1862, 295, 334, 345, 347, 351 
Holcroft, Thomas, a.d. i 744-1 809, 275 
Holland, /. G., a.d. 1819-1881, 42 
Homer, between B.C. 700-800, 354 
Horace, Quintus Horaiius Flaccus, B.C. 65-8, 130, 351 
Howell, James, a.d. i 594-1666, 252 
Hulme, F, Edward, a.d. i 841-1909, 12, 18 
Humphreys, PT. /., 31 
Irving, Washington, a.d. i 783-1 859, 299 
Jacox, Francis, a.d. 1874, I03> 1^7 
Jermin, Michael, a.d. ?-i659, 102, 262, 263 
Joubert, Joseph, a.d. i 754-1 824, 44 
Keil, C F., and Delitzsch, F,, 1878, 123 
Kelly, James, a.d. 1721, 149, 224, 244, 245, 314, 344 
Knowles, J. Hinton, a.d. 1885, 89, 154 
Langland, William, a.d. 1330-1400, 298, 367 
Lawrence, Robert Means, a.d. 1847, 192 
Lockier, Francis, a.d. i 668-1 740, 330 
Longfellow^ Henry Wadsworth, a.d. i 807-1 882, 105 
Lyle, John, a.d. 1553-1601, 61 
Mannyng, Robert (Robert de Brunne), about aj>. 1264- 

1338, 262 
Meyer, H. A» W., a.d. 1800-1873, 124 
Mickle, W. J,, A.D. 1 734-1788, 202 
Miller, Hugh, a.d. 1802-1856, 375 
Milton, John, a.d. 1608-1674, 54> 3^4 
Montaigne, Michael de, a.d. i 533-1 592, 65, 188 
Montgomery, James, a.d. i 771-1854, 106 
Morley, John, a.d. 1838, 42 
Morton, W,, A.D. 1832, 80, 228 
Muffet, Peter, a.d. 1596, loi, 109 
MHUer, Max, a.d. 1823-1900, 39 
Nares, Robert, a.d. 1 753-1 829, 380 
Negjris, Alexander^ a.d. i 831, 76, 327 

388 Authors Quoted 

Nicolson, Alexander, a.d. 1880, 75, 77, 78, 323, 373 

Ovid, Publius Ovidius Naso, B.C. 43-A.D. 18, 198, 199, 202 

Palmer, Samuel, a.d. 1710, 301 

Parker, Joseph, a.d. 1830-1902, 5, 65, 112, 224 

Percival, P., a.d. 1842, 59 

Peter Pindar (John Wolcot), a.d. 1738-1819, 235, 371 

Phadrus, first part of the First Century a.d., 61 

Pope, Alexander, a.d. i 688-1 744, 251 

Prior, Matthew, a.d. 1664-172 1, 107 

Procter, Bryan Waller, a.d. i 787-1874, 44 

Publius Syrus, about B.C. 45, 353 

Ramsay, Allan, a.d. 1686-1758, 43, 56, 345 

Ray, John, a.d. 1628-1705, 48, 52, 81, 204, 323, 329, 366, 

Roebuck, Thomas, a.d. 1784-18 19, 80 

Rosecommon, W. D,, a.d. 1633-1685, iii 

Saadi (Shaikh Muslihu-'d-Din), a.d. 1184-1291, 235 

Sallust, Caius SaUustius Crispus, B.C. 85-35, 353 

Schaff, Philip, a.d. 1819-1893, 8 

Scott, Walter, a.d. i 771-1832, 64, 146, 220, 241, 246, 257, 

259, 314, 330, 334, 369, 372, 373» 376 
Seneca, Lucius Annceus, B.C. 4-A.D. 65, 140 
Shaikh Muslihu-*d-Din, a.d. ii 84-1291, 123 
Shakespeare, William, a.d. 1564-1616,60,84, 119, 134, 151 , 

176, 201, 241, 251, 367, 369, 377 
Skeat, Walter W., 1835, 22 
Slaveikoff, Pencho, a.d. 1904, 27 
Smith, David, a.d. 1866, 114, 121 
Smith, Sydney, a.d. i 771-1845, 190 
StiU, John, a.d. i 543-1608, 251 
Stow, John, A.D. 1 525-1 605, 57, 242 
Strutt, Joseph, A.D. 1 749-1 802, 349 
Taylor, John, a.d. 1580-1653, 151, 251 
Temple, William, a.d. 1628-1699, 44 
Theognis, about B.c. 540, 357 

Thomson, WUHam M., a.d. 1806-1894, 11, 21, 98, 122, 272 
Toy, Crawford H,, a.d. 1836-, 104, 112 
Trapp, John, a.d. 1601-1669, 106, ZZ2« 114, xz8« 134, 137 

Authors Quoted 3^9 

Trench, Richard Chenevix, a.d. 1807-1886, 26, 36, 41, 76, 82 

Tusser, Thomas, a.d. 1524-1580, 61, 147, 200, 214, 253, 299 

Walker, Margaret Coulson, a.d. 1908, 125, 180 

Watts, Isaac, a.d. 1674-1748, 301 

Webster, Noah, a.d. i 758-1 843, I, 89 

WhiU, J. D., A.D. 1889, 69, 72 

Wither, George, A.D. 1 588-1667, 147 

Wolcot, John, A.D. 1738-1819, 235, 371 

Wyatt, Thomas, a.d. i 503-1 542 

Xenophon, B.C. 43o(?)-357(?), 354 

Young, Edward, a.d. 1683-1765, 182, 305 


Abb^xian, 309 
Abel, 113 
Abraham, 134 
Abundance, 125 
Accountant, 265 
Acquired, by a father, 276; 

he who hath, 326 
Ad£un, children of, 139; 

lamentation of, 136 
Adder, deaf as an, 137; or 

eel, 260; were not so 

dangerous, 291 
Adheres, 327 
Adversity, friend is best 

found, 302 ; makes a man, 

Afar off, 302 
Affiirs, like Nandan's camp, 

59; of a king, 277 
Affection, ardour of paren- 
tal, 160; is a sparrow's 

nest, 158 
Afflicts, 131 
Agony of death, 282 
Agreement, 68 
Aik (oak), 260 
Ail (injury), 347 
Akparo, 364 
Ale, 347 
Alehouse, 242 
Aler, 253 
Alexander, 357 
Alligator, 391 
Almond, 159 
Almost, 334 
Alms, 269 
Alone, 144 

Ancestor, 223 

Anchorage, 198 

Andalusian, 243 

Angels, 133 

Anger, 283 

Angry, because he was, 579; 

if you are, 272; httle 

folks are soon, 225 ; looks 

as, 223 ; snake will be, 357 
Annoying, 265 
Answer, a soft, 103 ; he that 

giveth, 108; I'se, 241; 

king must, 278 
Ant, go to the, 107; the 

white, 95; were an, 143; 

what would the, 292 
Anvil, can break an, 196: 

stealing the, 219 
Ape, daspeth her young, 

284; turned up, 49 
Appearance, 135 
Apple, ask an, 51; half an, 

AraD, diligence, 238; jeal- 
ousy of, 244; with an, 237 

Arabic, do not speak, 238; 
is a language, 238 

Arabkyr, 243 

Arabs, 244 

Aragonian, 242 

Ark, 1^2 

Arm, brother's, 60; under 
one, 96; under yoi r, 170 

Armenian, like an, 240; 
with the, 247 

Armour, 109 

Army, 344 




Arrow, like an, 162; with 

one, 303 
Arrows, 376 
Ascend, 270 
Ascending, 283 
Ash, before tne» 210; the 

aik, the, 260 
Ashes, 339 
Asleep, 321 
Asparagus, 374 
Ass, a wild, 93; boasted, 

228; bridle tor the, 104; 

let the, 136 
Assembly, 155 
Asses, said to the, 339; sing, 

284; we are 133 
Ass's egg, 380 
August, 79 

Auld shoon (old shoes), 348 
Aunt, mustache of one's, 

171; were wheels, 223 
Author. 188 
Author s name, 344 
Axe, that fells, 161; which 

cuts, 182 
Axle, 382 


Babbler, 365 

Baboon, says, 359; with a 

big, 309 
Back, and breaks, 194; on 

the devil's, 96; over the 

devil's, 64 
Bad, 265 

Bad company, 219 
Bad fortune, 341 
Badger, 374 
Bag (seeFock), pipers, 363; 

torn, 320; to the auld 

stent, 149 
Bagpipes, 375 
Bags, 253 

Bairns (children), 260 
Bait, 190 
Baiting bull, 373 
Baker^ shovel, 377 

Balance is an abominatioiiv 

99; is not good, 107 
Bald, pate, 93; person, 54 
Banabana, 283 
Bandicoot, 284 
Bane (see Bone), cast a, 91 ; 

nearer the, 304 
Bane (ill luck), 156 
Bannock, 296 
Barber, learns his art, 228; 

pray Mr., 336; sight of 

the, 320 
Bare, 255 
Barefoot, 93 
Bare^ains, 178 
Bark, a dog will, 300; frae 

a teethless dog, 88; your- 
self, 173. 344 
Barley, 71 
Barm, 347 
Bam, 207 
Base, 266 
Bashful, ^11 

Basket (see Creel), con- 
tented in a, 314; cotton, 

167; made a, 171 
Bat, consumed by a, 284; 

hanging upside down, 49; 

when one, 236 
Battle, during a, 95; of the 

frogs, 226 
Battledore, 59 
Batuecas, 239 
Bawl, 246 
Beam, 125 
Bean, 303 
Beans, returns to his, 153; 

sowing, 333; sow red, 95; 

three blue, 329 
Bean-seller, 201 
Bear, about the, 46; wants 

a tail, 81; will learn, 284 
Beard, his own, 75; is 

burning, 226; on fire, 48; 

whether he had a, 313; 

will pay for, 61 
Beards, 317 



Beast, life of his, 102; there 

is no, 284 
Beaten, 342 
Beating, 365 
Beau, 313 
Beaucamp, 366 
Beautiful, 338 
Beauty, a camel, 313; in 

the peace of, 134; is vain, 

107; of women, 281, 283; 

what a, 340; will sit and 

weep, 261 ; woman's, 

Became, 327 
Bed, 343 
Bedpost, 166 
Bee, 292 
Beetle, is a beauty, 292; 

stretched out, 233 
Beetle (a mallet), 367 
Beg, 344 
Beggar, another a, 192; 

like a, 378 
Beginning, I'm but, 345; of 

a ship, 277 
Beginmngs, 219 
Begun, 254 
Believes, 304 
Bell, 378 
Belly, 64, 96 
Beltane, bright at, 145; to 

the, 149 
Belyve (mimediately), 53 
Benares, die at, 54; going 
► to, 380 
Best, 279 
Beware, 269 
Bewitched, 313 
Bhakat, 310 
Bible, 224 

Big, 171 

Biglam, 169, 334 

Bihar, 2ji 

Bird, a blind, 161 ; a gold, 
89; an old, 297; a wise, 
297; every, 287; flies, 165; 
in the cage, 294; in the 

wood, 294; killed the, 

334; that wandereth, 102; 

the flying, 94 
Birds, are not struck. 303; 

better where, 261 ; forest. 

45; of a feather, 300; of 

forest, 162 
Birk (birch), at Yule, 145; 

will bum, 256 
Bishop, 230 
Bite, bark ere he, 300; dogs 

don't, 299; gude as a, 88; 

own dog to, 306 
Bites, his master, 319; not 

his master, 306 
Bits, 326 
Bitterness, 112 
Black, as pitch, 331; as the 

devil, 366; Christmas, 

145; man is, 58 
Blackbird, 287 
Blackee, 362 
Blacken, 333 
Blacksmith, one of the, 310; 

thev met the, 63 
Bladcier, 329 
Blanket, weave a, 78; where 

are you? 336 
Blarney, 239 
Bleating, 73 
Blemishes, 269 
Blessing, 60 
Blind, can see mouth, 219; 

catch a flea, 294; for a, 96; 

guide the, 118; must not 

be, 240; son's name, 228; 

to ask the, 173; tutor is, 

M ; wish of the, 335 ; with 

both, 129; woman shaves, 

Blind man, may sometimes, 
394; quarters of, 318; 
ran to his, 49: wife of, 156 

Blind men, 339 

Blocks, 253^ 

Blood (j«e Blude), 133 

Blossoms, 157 



Blow, a single, 96; blow for 
a, 142; cure for the, 92; 
in the eye, 265; you may, 


Blude (blood), come o', 

349; gentle, 547 
Blue, and red, 186; tail 

sky-blue, 49; will never 

stain, 260 
Bltmt, 317 
Blushes, 166 
Boar, 284 
Boast, a town to, 363; not 

thyself, 105 
Boastful, 247 
Boat, of Short John's son, 

75 ; on the, 61 ; rudderless. 

Boats, 253 

Boggy, 209 

Bold, as Beaucamp, 366; 

man has luck, 188 
Bond, 263 
Bondage, 357 
Bone (see Bane), 190 
Bonny (good looking), folk, 

228; pair, 233 
Booze, 56 
Borax, 62 
Bore, 319 
Bom, better ne'er be, 176; 

when he was, 65 \ 

Borrows, 341 
Boundaries, 156 
'Bout gates, 224 
Bow, 378 

Boy, little, 59; school, 228 
Bracelet, 174 
Brahman, 260 
Brain, 217 
Branches, 65 
Brass pots, 319 
Brawler, 113 
Brave, 197 
Bray, 208 
Braying, 139 
Breaches, 62 

Bread, cast thy, 106; God 
gives, 73; he eats the, 
182; in one hand, 129; 
loaves of, 273; settled 
the, 49 

Bread and butter, 257 

Breath, 342 

Bred, 239 

Bricks, 144 

Bride, as the, 349; bring^s 
home the, 194; happy is 
the, 178 

Bridal, 378 

Bridge, fuids a, 148; Swars- 
ton, 56; while the, 263 

Brilliant, 88 

Brittle, 88 

Brogue (bradawl), 231 

Broken, 382 

Brook, 189 

Broom, a new, 297; an old, 

Brose, will be thicker, 318; 
will scunner, 319 

Broth, 76 

Brother, is bom, 99; like a, 
307; offended, 98; with- 
out a, 307; younger, 70 

Brother-in-law, 94 

Brown bread, 58 

Buckhavcn College, 311 

Buffalo, 284 

Bugs, 292 

BuU, from the window, 284 ; 
may as well, 197 

Bull-frogs, 96 

Bullion's Day, 207 

Bullock, ask, 284; climbing, 

Bully, 61 

Bungalow, 164 

Burst, 353 

Burying, 190 

Busmess, he has more, 147; 
that is thy, 333; things 
have no, 276 

Butcher, 95 



Butter, appl3ring, 173; 

boiled, 88; eggs and, 346; 

muckle, 325 
Butting, 379 
Buttons, 64 
By-paths, 160 

Cabbages, 344 

Cable, 364 

Cackle, 349 

Cactus, 2J.8 

Cage, bird in the, 294; cow 

in a, 165 
Cake, make a, 345; why so, 

Calf, a gude, 284; worship 

a, 141 

Calves, 316 

Camel, a black, 156; comes 
to the, 223; easier for a, 
119; for a farthing, 68; 
gets his nose, 284; going 
to seek, 229 ; go to Mecca, 
307; how do you do, 336; 
IS a pilgrim, 307; is 
drowning, 229; leap a 
ditch, 167, 381; like the, 
318; not a, 344; science 
of the, 320; swallow a, 
121 ; what side the, 79 

Cameral, 296 

Candlemas Day, 148 

Canopy, 278 

Cap, 88 

Capon, 238 

Caps, 223 

Captain, 221 

Carcase, 125 

Cards, 89 


Cart, before the horse, 170; 
boat on the, 61; the 
broken, 232 ; unlucky 
man's, 191 

Carthagena, 79 

Castanet, 383 

Castle, 98 

Castock (cabbage core)» 

Cat, and the wicked, 95; 

answer to the, 94; away, 

the mice, 255 ; a winkin'. 

90; good luck, 191; had 

licked the, 366; has the 

black, 55; heaven to the, 

231; in gloves, 88; it sees 

the, 318; Kilkenny, 72; 

kiss the black, 179; 

leaped over it, 55; lies 

on its, 217; on a wall, 378; 

out o* our gate, 302; 

plays with a, 285; the 

rat and, 254; to the old, 

46; will be a small, 219 

Cats, 302 

Cause, 314 

Ceylon, 240 

Chaff, been caught with, 
297; not caught with, 297 

Chalk, 371 

Championship, 75 

Change, 312 

Chanting, 62 

Character, in a good, 279; 
of a fool, 281 

Chariot, devouring, 80; 
moves not, 343 

Charity, 274 

Cheating, 243 

Cheek, scanty, 94; trouble 
on his, 58 

Cheese, chalk to, 371; it is 
elf, 250 

Cherry blossom, 242 

Chestnut shell, 223 

Chevemisa, 81 

Chicken, a frizzled, 189; 
faces at, 171 

Chickens, are slow, 287; 
children and, 252; don't 
brag, 230 

Children (see Bairns) and 
chickens, 252 ; eaten, 345; 
teeth. III 



Chimney, 88 

Chinese, 244 

Chips, 255 

Choice, is to do, 306; is 
wealth, 306 

Christ, 144 

Christmas (see Ytile), a 
black, 145, 294; after, 
145; a green, 145, 146, 
204; a warm, 146; before, 
148; bring another, 145; 
brings green, 153; comes 
but once, 147; devil makes 
his, iii9; nnds a bridge, 
148; has been talked, 
147; in mud at, 149, 152; 
light, 149; maketh at, 
148; never appear on, 
147; ninth day after, 
212; on a Sunday fall, 
148; on a Thursday be, 
148; ovens at, 147; sun 
shines on, 215; they keep, 
150; they talk of, 150; 
tm after, 149; today and 
May-day, 323; three 
days before, 149; Whit- 
sunday wet, 150 

Chuckie stanes (pebbles), 


Chuckling, 378 

Church, rain before, 215; 

would be a, 242 
Churchyard (see kirkyard), 

145, 204, 294 
Cigarette, 226 
Cinders, 300 
City, a strong, 98; go to 

the, 341 
Claes (clothes), 256 
Clap-dish, 377 
Claws, 376 
Clay, formed of, 139; one 

lump of, 276 
Clean, as a whistle, 366; 

gane as if, 366; sweeps, 


Clergyman, 273 

Clever, 248 

Cleverness, 262 

Clogs, 233 

Clothes (see Claes), secure 

his, 228; wear the same, 

223; without, 89 
Clouds, after, 204; overcast 

with, 162; to become, 169 
Cloudy, 20^ 
Clout (slap), 258 
Clouter (patcher), 257 
Clown, 49 
Club, all is a, 135; God's, 

92, 157 
Clue (ball of worsted), 222 

Coats, 317 

Coat-tail, on his neigh- 
bour's, 223; on your, 93 
Cobra, 291 
Cock, a black, 91; asked 

the, 338; crows, 185, 287; 

drink in summer, 209; 

lays eggs, 192; upon a 

hillock, 378 
Cockles, 289 
Cockroach, 230, 292 
Cock's stride, 206 
Cocoanut, getting up the, 

225; go up the, 342; like 

the, 375 
Coffin, 91 
Coins, 93 
Cold, weather, 207; will 

bring, 216 
Collier, like a» 378; stole 

the, 358 
Colt, 285 
Come, 48 
Comets, 207 
Common man, 268 
Compliments, 243 
Concealed, 299 
Condition, 256 
Confessed, 299 
Conflagration, 167 
Conf udusy 352, 353 



Connlaoch, 374 
Conqueror, 139 
Conscience, 306 
Consideration, 276 
Content, lies in, 269; with 

what, 136 
Contented, 314 
Contentment, 154 
Conversation, 41 
Cook, 232 
Com, crop of, 150; hens in 

the, 314; keep the, 72; 

treadeth out the, 123 
Comer, 318 
Corpse, the rain rains on, 

178; wedding comes a, 

Couch, 166 

Counsel, at Abel, 113; 
needs little, 190; of Je- 
hovah, 112 

Countenance, handsome, 
163; sharpeneth the, 109 

Country, as the, 42; who 
changes, 202 

Coup (overtum), 191 

Courage, 304 

Court o' Sessions, 222 

Covetousness, 269 

Cow, a holy, 9 1 ; comely as a, 
16^; for a dead, 312; 
Fnezeland, 238; is not 
called, 285; oil of the, 
264; Veda to a, 381 

Cows, 338 

Crab, has no head, 224, 289; 
in the hedge, 146; of the 
wood, 327 

Crack (talk), 259 

Cradle, 169 

Crane, attempts to dance, 
236, 287; myself to a, 64; 
upon a pair, 376 

Credit, 191 

Creel (basket), 260 

Creep, 78 

Cressy 178 

Crevice, 154 

Crib, 113 

Cried fair, 378 

Cripple, 49 

Crocodile, hard as a, 375; 

in the water, 291 ; proves 

a, 60 
Crooked, it is, 363; your 

bill is, 339 
Crops, 207 
Cross, as nine highways* 

366; sign of the, 243 
Crow, exclaimed, 332 ; 

fought with a, 322; has a 

maid, 62; how goes it» 

333 ; in a cage, 287; shoot 

a, 294; speak by night, 

Crowd, 220 
Crucifixes, 196 
Cry, better the child, 261; 

great, 131; the Italians* 

246; why do you, 342 
Crying, 334 
CuchuUin, 374 
Cuckoo, fence in the, 85; 

gumshion o' the, 287 
Cuckoos, 281 
Cucumber, to the beggar* 

363; to the Roman* 

Cuffing, 189 
Cultivator, 196 
Cunning, 321 
Cup, 54 
Cur, 321 
Curcuddock, 50 
Cure, 264 
Curse, both are a, 336; that 

is causeless, 103 
Curses, 267 
Cushion, 374 
Custard, 47 

Daggers, 248 

Dance, attempts to, 236; 
in a net, 174 



Dancer, 171 

Dances, 194 

Dancing, 283 

Dark, and black, 324; as a 

Yule, 146 
Darkness, 156 
Daughter, easily begets, 

57; for the first-bom, 

200; go to your, 327; so 

is her, 102 ; the devil's, 92, 

219; would win, 262 
Daughter-in-law, 318 
David, grew old, 144; sweet 

songs of, 139 
Davicrs sow, 368 
Day, a cloudy, 211; and 

night, 269; sufficient unto 

the, 122 
Daybreak, 173 
Dead, as a door-nail, 367; 

want to be, 263 
Dead one, 326 
Deaf, as a beetle, 367; as 

an adder, 137; people, 

166; the pupil, 51 
Death, all have, 192 ; brings, 

183; comes the dog, 65; 

in a toom dish, 225; Job's 

friends or, 130; the warp 

of, 162; the ways of, 112; 

was not sufficient, 53; 

without doubt, 268 
Debt, 152 
Declaration, 320 
Dee (die), 315 
Deer, Daddy, 219; eye of a, 

Defeated, 277 
Defendant, 232 
Deil (devd), bairns, 200; 

said o' his, 233; said 

when he, 358; teeth, 91; 

to stick himsel', 316; 

work shop, 89 
Deliberate, 70 
Delights, 265 
I^uge, 139 

Demon, becomes a, 240; 
hospitality, 332 

Depth, 229 

Descending, 283 

Desire, 269 

Destroys, 193 

Devices, are many, 112; has 
many, 136 

Devil (see Deil), affair, 6^; 
black as the, 366; child- 
ren, 189; in every berry, 
185; prayer-book, 89; 
said to the, 364; said 
when he, 49; tempted 
Him, 144 

Devil's daughter, 366 

Devotion, 242 

Dew, 162 

Dews, 156 

Dhotee, 245 

Dick's hatband, 373 

Dick Smith, 47 

Die (see Dee), before you, 
199; so shall he, 250; 
why did he, 342 

Difficulties, 42 

Dig. 342 
Diligence, 202 

Dimple, 62 

Dinner, rest, 295 ; sit awhile, 

295; sleep, 295; you must 

stand, 295 
Diocese, 230 
Dirt, 191 
Dirt bird, 216 
Disagreeable, 305 
Diseases, 52 
Disfigurement, 134 
Dish, a toom, 225; he daps 

his, 55 
Dishcloth, 47 
Distance, 302 
Distempered, 365 
Ditch, in the, 179; leap a« 

Dizzen (dozen), 225 
Dizzy, 368 



Doctor, at a stand, 262; 
is half a, 167; seeking a, 

Doctrine, 382 

Dog, a black, 166; a living, 
100; a servant and a, 3 1 1 ; 
a teethless, 88; a wicked, 
90; barking, 299; be a, 
70; beware of a, 190; by 
the ears, 108; cannot 
digest, 88; comes, a stone, 
308; death, 182; garden- 
er's, 381; hair of the, 
176; nas four paws, 230; 
holy unto the, 117; in 
church, 199; is a Hon, 
301; jackets for, 89; 
Lovell, 254; meat to the, 
60; presses up to wall, 
65; red, 94; send, 60; 
the silly, 94; the street, 
191 ; throw at a, 308; to a 
good, 190; to keep a, 173; 
turning to his, 122; with 
a bell, 378; without a 
tail, 365 

Dogs, as mony, 380; pla- 
guing, 348 

Dog's dream, 377 

Dog's feet, 347 

Donkey, bray at you, 285; 
mounted on a, 94; tail, 
220; to a wedding, 362 

Donsy (unlucky), 255 

Door, at anyone's, 188; 
at every man's, 192; a 
man to the, 221; nearer 
than the, 157; opens, 202 

Door-nail, 367 

Door sill, 58 

Dove, 287 

Do weel, 315 

Dragon, 176 

Drags, 382 

Drawers, 231 

Dread, 143 

Dream, dumb man's, 58; 

of a wedding, 175; takes 

in a, 382 
Dressed, 306 
Drink, by measure, 252; 

leaving his, 69; to eat 

and to, 131; wine, 268 
Dropping, 98 
Drum, beat a, 166; hares 

with a, 202 
Drunk, as a snake, 383; as 

David's sow, 368; this 

morning, 297; with fun. 

Dry, 204 

Dry head, 333 

Duck, harkenin' to thunder, 

375; in air, 90; will bear 

a, 211 
Ducks, 287 
DuU, 368 

i^uiy, 253 

Dumb, man's dream, 58; 

within the grave, 264 
Dun in the Mire, 368 
Dwarf, I am a, 363; seizing 

the moon, 171 
Dykes, 377 

Eager, 282 

Eagle, appearance an, 91; 

catch nae, 3 13 ; is as good, 

Eagles, 125 
Ear, lobe of, 166 
Early, hadst got up, 55; to 

rise, 261 
Ears, a sow's, 233; above 

their heads, 60; one has, 

310; the devil's, 92 
Earth, has eaten, 375; gold 

out of, 331 ; sacred is the, 

Easter {see Pasch), a cold, 
146; a white, 145; before, 
151; comes late, 152; 
east of, 152; falls in 
Lady-day's, 152; frost, 



Easter — Continued 

153; having observed, 

153; in mud, 152; late, 

152; owe money on, 153; 

Palm Sunday and, 152; 

rain on, 150; say^ you 

may, 153; white, 153; 

you keep, 153 
Eat, and to drink, 131; at 

pleasure, 252; must not, 

Eaten, 321 
Eating, standing, 270; who 

has done, 356 
Eel, by the t^, 290; adder 

or an, 260 
Een (eyes), 56 
Eesight (eyesight), 222 
Eggy better have, 300; made 
laoes, 171; "Schew" to 

an, 170; shave the, 170; 

tame, 90; to break, 166; 

today, 300 
Eggs, and butter. 346; 

destroyed the, 79; norse's, 

Egypt, 248 

Elephant, and a mosquito, 
J82; in the rice pot, 169; 
is not an, 326; only an, 
285; part of an, 309; 
putting an, 94; swallow 
an, 219, 233; to put the, 

Elephant foot, 335 

Elephant's tusk, 365 

Eleven, cease before, 208; 
one and one make, 327 

EU, 239 

Elm, 260 

Eloquent, 232 

Emperor, 92 

End, 67 

Enemy, debt is an, 265; 
the greatest, 306; the 
worst, 302 ; what can the, 
143; who is either, 277 

Engagements, 96 
Englaiid, he that would, 

2^0; is tmdone, 330; the 

king of, 245 
English, love, 245; rule, 

245; steal, 245 
Enghshman, a black, 238; 

a right, 238; greets, 245; 

Italianized, 246; wet an, 


Enjoy, 270 

Enjo3mient, 156 

Enough, 344 

Envious, 95 . 

Envy, 256 

Erudition, 281 

Esau, 135 

Ethiopian, 105 

Evening, 58 

Everything, 326 

Evil, against an, 104; 
brings good or, 193; 
deeds of, 57; good and, 
131; thereof, 122 

Evils, 267 

Ewe, 285 

Exalteth, 116 

Excellence, 279 

Excuse, 234 

Expedient, 136 

Experience, oiildren of, 43; 
is the looking glass, 156 

Eye, a wicked, 95; cataract 
in his, 279; fall in his, 
255; is a window, 160; 
juice in your, 166; nails 
of your, 92; poke my, 
55; twinkling of an, 13^; 
when the right, 185; sit 
in one's, 171; without 
light, 365 

Eye-ache, 47 • 

Eyelids, 231 

Eyes (see Een), blind with 
both, 129; draw straws, 
58; fair, 191; give me 
your, 344; she had no. 



Eyes — ConUnued 

165; till your, 65; will 
sttQ be blue, 349; with 
my own, 143 

Pace, a black, 88; face to, 

Fain, 257 
Paint, 342 
Pair, weather, 207; would 

« be, 253 

Palcon, memory is a, 158; 

on his hand, 288 
Pall, 138 
Palse, a hundred years, 

296; as a Scot, 369 
Falsehood, is sweet to, 105; 

is the darkness, 156; 

is the devil's, 92; truth 
'' and, 53 
Famine, 82 
Pans, 50 
Par, 302 
Farming, 167 
Farthing, 68 
Fasting. 242 
Pat, if there be, 339; 

nothing but, 364; shall be 

made, 112 
Fatal day, 59 
Fate, assigns all, 353; but 

his, 263 ; of his own, 188 
Father, about his, 3^4; have 

eaten, 11 1; he said, 333; 

is not yet, 328 ; of afaxnily, 

336; they for a, 327 
Faults, of a mother, 139; 

there are six, 279; you 

would spy, 350 
Favours, fortune some- 
times, 193 ; to confer, 282 ; 

when fortune, 202 
Fears, 304 
Feast, 52 
Feasting, 105 
Peather, birds of a, 300; 

ostrich, 97 


Feathers, breast, 298; can 
count, 165; like seddng, 

February, a fine, 211; gives 

L snow, 217; reckon right 
and, 327 

Feet, each other's, 357; 
four white, 194; holds up 
bis, 233; in the tank, 
379; soles of my, 81 ; soles 
01 the, 173; spreads his, 
233; where its, 50; with 

• your, 330 

Fence, in the cuckoo, 85; 
lasts, 265; there is no, 

Fennel, 182 

Fertility, 215 

Fickle, 95 

Fiddle strings, 374 

Fidelity, 46 

Fierce, as a lion, 311; as a 
tiger, 377 

Fighting, 246 

Fig tree. 377 

Fine, day, 203; Sunday, 
203; weather, 203 

Finger, gift on, 175; my 
own, 55; put in fire, 189 

Fingers, clerks', 149; four, 
53; showing one, 362 

Finger's breadth, 65 

Fire, finger in the, 189; 
he set, 75; melts iron, 
274; sea will take, 169; 
stir the, 331; to a large, 
128; when the man's, 
260; without, 63 ; With its, 

Firebrand, 225 

Firebrands, 103 

Firefly, 292 

Fireplace, 54 

Fish, comes to his, 289; 
dried, 167; in troubled 
waters, 304; is bad, 242; 
poison, 270; the Rui, 233 



Fisher, 305 

Pishing, 303 

Fist, 154 

Flaps, 320 

Plat, 304 

Flea, 294 

Fleas, catching, 202; catch 
nae, 313; gnpping, 225 

Fled, 353 

Flee. 198 

Flesh, is aye, 304; sweeter 
the, 304; to pine, 257 

Flies, catches more, 292; 
dead, 106; wings of, 167 

FHts, 375 

Flock, 301 

Flood (see Flude), 203 

Flounders, 290 

Flourishing, 37^ 

Flower, in winter, 155; 
know what, 320; without 
perfume, 156 

Flowering, 377 

Flowers, divided the, 162; 
in the air, 94; open with- 
out, 156; to ganlens, 46 

Flude (flood), 296 

Flummery, 196 

Flutes, 222 

Fly, and a flitch, 322; has 
eaten, 319; has the, 341; 
unable to, 320 

Foggy, 209 

Follow, he will, 57; you, 
go on, 341 

Follows, 327 

Folly, and shame, 108; like 
love, 306; outweighs, 106 

Fool, a great, 219, 306; 
answer a, loi; answer 
not a, 1 01, 297; character 
of, 281; even a, 107; is, 
266; remains a, 262; says, 
362; shoes of, 92; that 
marries, 148; unable, 309; 
visits the, 198 

Pools, are counted, 201; 

fortune favours, 325; 
keep the com, 72; Hps 
of, 44; not planted, 222; 
repeat them, 46; shall 
smart, 113 

Foot, laiger than my, 58; 
should be placed, 277; 
trod on his, 61, 88 

Forehead, a high, 197; 
written on liie, 63 

Forest, dance in the, 51; to 
its own, 161 

Poigets, 194 

Poigive, 383 

Forgotten, 357 

Forsake, 283 

Port, 242 

Fortune, a drop of, 190; 
and misfortune, 192; 
assists you, 196; can 
take, 192; comes to, 188; 
does not, 188; ever fights, 
1 89 ; favours, 202 ; favours 
fools, 325; fence against, 
201 ; f nendly,20i ; goneto» 
52; has wings, 192; helps 
them, 188; is a woman, 
192; is round, 192; is the 
companion, 189; is the 
good, 156; knocks once, 
192; of good, 189; opens 
the door, 202 ; own good, 
188; pipes, 194; rarely 
brings, 193; reaches out, 
2Q2 ; Scotsman's, 249; 
smiles, 202, 234; some- 
times favours, 193; was 
your, 189; wearies with, 
193; wheel of, 201, 202; 
will sit, 261 

Forty, 207 

Foul, end in, 325; mom, 203 

Founders, 161 

Four things, 270, 271 

Fowl, knows the, 287; 
ninety-nine, 45; right 
where the, 230 



Fowler, 95 

Fox, barking of the, 215; 

foes at last, 285; has a 
undred, 45 ; said to the, 78 

Frae (from), 304 

Frame, 318 

France, King of, 245 ; to live 
in, 242 ; win, 241 

Franks, 244 

Fraud, 325 

Freeze, 236 

Freight, 221 

French, make love, 245; 
sing, 246 

Frenchman, legs, 245; runs 

I away, 237; sings, 245; 

( sleeps, 249 

Friday, 178 

Friend, a good, 299; at 
sneezing time, 354; a true, 
299; feeble, 89; God be 
our, 143; he sells his, 132; 
in misfortune, 306; is an 
acre, 306; is a clean, 506; 
is best found, 302; is a 
mount, 155; is meant, 
362; is no man's, 182; 
is not known, 294; like a 
brother, 307; loveth, 99; 
meet an old, 163; never 
was a, 295, 302; often 
becomes, 302; once to a, 
59; quality of a, 279; 
remembers his, 268; 
secrets to your, 303; to a 
man, 306; to any but a, 
303; without a, 307 

Fnends, agree best, 302; 
are like, 374; cease to be, 
302; Job^s, 130; look at, 
274; without our, 308 

Friendship, 160 

Fritter, 322 

Frog, enjoys, 231 ; flew into 
a, 291; has no shirt, 231; 
never bites, 260; will be 
angiy, 357 

Frogs, 226 

Frost, and fraud, 325; hail 

brings, 208; may be 

expected, 217 
Froth, QO 
Fruit, known by its, 123; 

laden with, 160; never 

comes, 131; not lost, 

Full, 215 

Fun, 92 

Funeral, so hot, 342; turn 

back a, 234 

Furniture, 59 

Future world, 281 

Gabriel, 143 

Gad, 257 

Gael, 246 

Gaika, 197 

Gallant, 271 

Gallows, and then the,' 2 70; 

bad company, 219 
Gambler, 337 
Game, 356 
Games, 381 
Gape seed, 60 
Garden, 266 
Gardens, in the, 263; of 

kindness, 163 
Garland, 165 
Garment, as one that 

taketh off, 103; is too 

small, 62 
Garments, 163 
Garuda, 336 
Gar wood (forced wood), 

Gate, brass, 74; everyman s 
156; hard by, 177; of 
justice, 163; 01 thy stable, 

Gate post, 370 

Gaudy, 49 

Gear (wealth), 256 

Geese, at Martin's Day, 
149; on the green, 348 



Gem, in every rock, 281; is 

not polished, 154 
Gems, 46 
Generation, 154 
Generous, by giving, 139; 

man, 266 
Genoese, 243 
German, a ^ood fellow, 245; 

and Russian, 249; is wdl 

off, 243 
Germans, and Italians, 24^; 

carry their wit, 245; m 

the act, 246 
Germany, 245 
Gerse (grass), 348 
Ghosts, 147 
Gift, 175 
Gilderoy, 370 
Gilding, 56 
Ginger, 311 
Gims (grins or snarls), 

Give, but eat shoes, 66; 

if God won't, 133; to him 

that has, 130 
Gives, the hand that, 140; 

twice, 252 
Gladness, 250 
Glass, a plaster house, 261; 

he that loves, 325 
Glass houses, 84 
Gloves, a cat in, 88; to 

help on his, 166 
Glowers, 375 
Glowworm, 167 
Glowworms, 292 
Gnat, for every nimrod, 

141; strain out a, 121 
Gnats, 292 
Goad, no 
Goat, a black, 67; buy a, 

224; has three legs, 68; 

met the water, 62; that 

climbs up, 285 
God, gives bread, 73; has 

His hosts, 74; hath 

power, 107; if it please. 


^8; that which is lost, 
For, 80, 224 

God, 49 

God bless you, 354 

Goes, 329 

Goings, loi 

Gold, like apples of, 104; 
in misfortune, 306; out 
of earth, 331 ; taken out of 
filth, 275; the greatest 
enemy, 306 

Golden City, 316 

Goldsmith, 310 

Golgotha, i^ 

Goma Genesa, 74 

Good (see Gude), day, 
month, year, 273; fortune 
rarely brings, 103; to do, 
306; to the gooQ, 131 

Good days, 271 

Good end, 266 

Go0d4uck, 197 

Good man, 62 

Good men, 329 

Good people, 375 

Goods, 271 

Good word, 359 

Goose, as dizzy as, 368; a 
long while behind, 97; 
a wild, 90, 288; full of 
fun, 92; gang barefit, 

Goose skins, 370 

Goslings, 288 

Gowk, 145 

Grace, enjoyment is, 156; 
is deceitful, 107 

Graceless, 242 

Graip, 351 

Grandfather, 169 

Grandmother, playing game 
with, 381; were mascu- 
line, 169 

Grandng (groaning), 89 

Grape, 185 

Grape juice, 166 

Grapesi sour, 1x1, 140 



Grass (see Gerse), calves 
gone to, 316; every blade 
of, 156; for a dead cow, 
312; for his calf, 225; 
for the calf, 342; never 
grows, 249 ; one root of, 45 

Grasshopper, fascinated by 
lamp, 292; flits like, 375 

Gratitude, 271 

Grave, earth over, 159; 
horse digging, 169; must 
press upon, 53 

Grave (sedate), 370 

Graveclothes, 94 

Gravel, 105 

Gravest, 278 

Gravy, 346 

Grease, 165 

Great, 134 

Great man, 309 

Great merchant, 309 

Great talkers, 375 

Great Wav, 160 

Great wedding, 309 

Greek, 238 

Green, forsworn, 186; geese 
on the, 348; marry in, 184 

Greens, 381 

Greet (weep), 94 

Gregory's, 47 

Greyhotmd, 285 

Grinds, 202 

Grindstone, 238 

Groschen, 197 

Grow, 222 

Grunting, 89 

Guard, 274 

Guardian, 156 

Gude (good) ale, 311; do a 
turn^ 219 

Gude face, 359 

Gudgeon, 290 

Guide, 248 

Guiding, 198 

Guilty, 81 

Gull, 288 

Gully (pocket knife), 316 

Gulp, 222 
Gun, 381 
Gutter, 364 
Gutter Lane, 53 
Gypsies, 263 

Haddock, cameral, 396; 
Januar', 296 

Haddock's head, 320 

Hadji (pilgrim), 307 

Haggis, 315 

Hail, 208 

Hair, curly, 197; egg and, 
170; from a bald pate, 
03; how much on my 
head, 336; more th^ 
wit, 176; negro's, 380; 
of that, 226; of the dog, 
176; priest's, 174 

Hairs, 157 

Half a score, 327 

Halo, 210 

Halter, 90 

Hame (home), 222 

Hand, a baby's, 177; for- 
tune reaches out, 202; 
he who has eye-ache, 47; 
is shallow, 62; person 
who washes, 333; put 
your, in, 260 

Hands, blue, 88; one htmd* 
red, 165; unlucky, 191 

Hang, 245 

Hangedp for leaving drink, 
69; tor leaving liquor, 
76; widow, 226 

Hanging, 222 

Hangman, 219 

Hanselled, 76 

Hap, 193 

Happen, 48 

Happy, 200 

Hard, 375 

Hardy, 315 

Hare, and mountain, 339; 
catch with tabor, 349; 
hounds slew, 364 



Harelip, 62 

Hares, catch, with drum, 

202; large, 2^ 
Harkeneth, iii 
Harp, 157 
Harrow, 167 
Harry (ruin), 257 
Haste, marry in, 304; nae- 

thing to be done ia, 

Hasty, as Hopkins, 370; if 

ye be, 259 
Hat, fellow with, 245; flea's, 


Hatchet, 330 

Hatching, 375 

Hate, 232 

Hath, 125 

Hatter, 372 

Haud, 317 

Haughty spirit, no 

Hawks, 288 

Head, a good, 165; break 
his wife's, 222; broken, 
349; his, aches, 169; 
horse and, 62; proud, 
89; put your, under, 
170; snake that has, 
379; squeezed his, 88; 
wash your, 263; your, 
will know, 77 

Heads, 60 

Headaches, 172 

Health, part of Kent hath, 
244; to wear it, 325 

Healthy, 223 

Hear, 166 

Heart, affection consumes, 
160; and pocket, ^o; as a 
man's, 128; blac^ goat, 
67; black shoe makes, 88; 
crab's, 224; has bounda- 
ries, 1 56 ; has summer and 
winter, 160; knowethown 
bitterness, 112; lose, 256; 
of man to man, 102; of 
Noah, 139; of the sons I 

of men, 104; road from, 
161; teeth not, 63 

Heart-breaking, 55 

Heat, 204 

Heaven, 157 

Heavenly Father, 269 

Heavens, 41 

Hech, 222 

Hedgehogs, 285 

Heels, fortune trips, 201 ; 
keep spur, 59 

Hell, 50 

Helm, 161 

Helmet, 222 

Help, God hath power to, 
107; God's, 157 

Hempe, 330 

Hen, cackles, 288; he has 
caught, 171; owl and, 
338; setting, 298; tomor- 
row, than egg today, 300 

Hendyng, 254 

Hens, canna flee, 302; to 
have pillows, 58 

Heron's a saint, 288 

Heron, "Your bill is crook- 
ed," 33? 

Herring, hang by tail, 290; 
in the land, 262 

Het kail (hot broth), 325 

Hiccough, 236 

Hid, 275 

Hida, 313 

Hidden, 280 

Hide, 95 

High, 370 

High Dutch, 245 

Highways, 366 

Hips and Haws, 257 

Hisses, 320 

Hoary head, 112 

Hobi-de-hoy, 253 

Hoe, 507 

Hog, baishftd as, 311; Eng- 
land under the, 254; has 
St. Martin's day, 54; 
that's bemired, 285 



Hogs over Swarstxm bridge, 


Hole, there is a, 169; who 
darkened, 77 

Holongd, 166 

Holy, 117 

Honest (see Leal), as skin, 
377; man, 236 

Honesty, 303 

Honey, God and, 74; who 
has eaten, 341 

Honeycomb, 112 

Honour and state, 260; good 
men seek, 271; prophet 
not without, 114 

Honoured, 265 

Hoo, 255 

Hood, 89 

Hook, 205 

Hope, 109 

Hopkins, 370 

Hops, 375 

Horns and blind, 335 ; camel 
seeks, 229 

Horse, and spur, 296, auld, 
259 ; big-bcllicd, 92 ; blind* 
93; cart before, 170; gold- 
en bit, 285; grunting, 89; 
has thrown rider, 169; 
is ruin of Osmanli, 237; 
lean, 90; mud, 92; one- 
eyed, 96; Pacha's, 233; 
paper, 95; proverb is, 
41; short, 90; sooner 
fiible than, 224; Turk's, 
249; wall-eyed, 179; 
weakest, 170; whip tor, 
104; with four white 
feet, 194; wooden, 95, 

Horseback, Lord on, 140; 

misforttmes on, 181 

Horsemanship, 167 

Horses, ride two, 56 

Horse's bite, 377 

Horseshoe, 267 

Hose, 345 

Hound, 225 

Hounds, 364 

House, he who sells, 58; 
Passover celebrated 
within, 62; person in, 
54; plaster, 267; rcrbins 
seen near, 209 

Human, 78 

Humble, bending of 'the, 
160; be very, 91; child- 
ren of, 139 

Hump-backed, 223 

Hunchback, 378 

Hundred, 52 

Hunger, 257 

Hungry, "now, I am," 342; 

"I am," 337 
Husband and wife, 157; 

parson's wife and, 311 
Husbandman, 282 
Husk, does not admire, 

223; in my teeth, 267 


Ice, at St. Martin's day, 
149; in November, 211; 
will bear a man, 148 

Idle, 89 

Idleness, hunger's mother, 
263; root of evil, 133 

Ignorant, have two spots, 
95; if you are, 272 

111, 260 

Ill-bred, 316 

111 luck (see Unlucky and 
Misfortune), enters, 197; 
is worse than, 197; luck 
and, 189; mendicants 
drive away, 200; stout 
man crushes, 188; who 
has no, 202; worse than, 

Imbeciles, 94 

Impudent, 247 

Inch, bungalow upon, 164; 

gie a Scotchman an, 239; 
off a man's nose, 219 



Industry, 189 

Inferior, 353 

Ingle, 224 

Iniquity, 133 

Injury, 267 

Innocent, 81 

Insane, 164 

Inside, 143 

Instrument, 232 

Ireland, 240 

Irish, 245 

Irishman, never at peace* 

246; on the spit, 239; 

sleeps, 24^ 
Iron, ny and, 319; Passions 

are like, 382; ^arpcneth, 

109; shoe of silver makes* 

Irons, 261 
Isaiah, 134 
Islanders, 240 
Isle of Wight, 246 
Italians, and Germans, 249; 

cry, 246 
Italy, 242 

Jack, 150 

Jackal, by day, 209; gives 

luck, 190; on a pilgrim-. 

a«e, 285 
Jackdaw, 288 
Jackets, 89 
Jacob, did not lament, 135; 

voice of, 135 

; ail, 370 

^ anuary, 216 

^ apan, 242 

, ars, 255 

^ atayu, 80 

, aw, 219 

Jaws, 317 

^ ealous, 304 

Jealousy, love expels, 304; 
of an Arab, 244 

Jehovah, abomination to, 
107; counsel of, 112; he 
that hath* lendeth* 108; 


hunter before, 109; lying 
lips to, no; man's goings 
of, loi ; the mount of, 109 

Jenny, 150 

^ est, 262 

, esus, 135 

Jewel, 278 

Job, patient as, 135; poor 
as, 132 

; bhn, ^3 J 

John o the Bank, 256 

, oking, 49 

Joseph {see Yoosoof), breth- 
ren of, 132; in £g3rpt, 
135; one, 138 
udge, 135 

ud^ent, punishment, 272 ; 
with what, 127 

, uly, 79 

, une, 79 

, un^le, 172 

Justice, 247 

Kajar, 231 

Kas grass, 215 

Keep yourself, 275 

Kent, 244 

Kettle, an old, 65; and 

kitchen spoon, 362 
Keys, 335 
Kick, against goad, 119; 

and red vest, 95 
Kid, 285 
Kilkenny, 72 

Kill, ox, 270; who can* 133 
Killeth, 267 
Kimono, 91 
Kind, 130 
Kindness, 163 
King, as is the, 129; fortune 

makes, 192; Joseph, 135; 

of Kings, 245; reigns, 

176; wi^ to be, 93 
Kingdom, 185 
Kirk, 380 
Kirkyard (see Churchyard)* 




Sss, black cat, 1 79 ; of love, 

Kissed, 56 

Kisses, are messengers, 157; 

of an enemy, 107 
Kite (bird), a htmgry, a88; 

carry off child, 80; kicked 

away by, 348 
Kitten, 174 
Kiiave, 363 
Knavery, 232 
Knife, 63 
Knocks, fortune, 192 ; little, 

Knot, 174 
Knout, 238 
Ejiowledge, is excellent, 

259; lander of, 161 
Krishna, 346 

Labour, 198 

Lack and a lack, 343 

Lac-paper, 309 

Ladder, 161 

Laddie (little boy), 258 

Lady. 149 

Lady-day, 152 

Laird, 258 

Lamb, and wolf, 142; first, 
182; in search of, 172; 
teaching sheep, 172; wolf 
in skin, 132 

Lambs, 286 

Lament, 135 

Lamentation, of Adam, 136; 
with three, 68 

Lamp, of house, 161 ; with- 
out oil, 155 

Lamps, 43 

Land, an acre of, 306; a 
nail, 267 

Lands, 259 

Lankd, 309 

Lantern, 380 

Lard, 173 

Larger, 363 

Larks, 288 

Last long, 268 

Lasts, 265 

Late, better than never, 

300; early and, 55; to 

bed, 261 
Latin, 219 
Laugh, 264 
Laughs, bat, 49; on Friday, 

Law, like dykes, 377; some 

go to, 253 
Lawful, 136 
Lawsuits, 246 

Lay, 349 , . , 

Lazy, as Ludlam s dog, 371 ; 

person, 172; too, to leap, 

Leaf, 160 
Leaking ship, 374 
Leal (honest), 303 
Learned, 95 
Leather, 95 
Leave, 336 
Leaven, 114 
Leddy, 258 
Leech, 291 
Lees (lies), 236 
Left, and right, 198; hand, 

Leg, wooden, 52 
Legs, five Pandavas are 

three, 362; Frenchman's, 

95, 245; hen has, 171; 

lazy person has, 172; of 

the lame, 45; three, 68; 

wind's, 312 
Leisure, 304 
Leith, 345 
Lengthen, 218 
Lent, Christmas and, 145; 

Easter and, 153; he who 

wants, 152; marry in, 181 
Leopard, is absent, 286; 

spots of, 105 
Lesson, 65 
Letter, 185 
Letter M, 331 




Lettuce, 380 

Liberal, 112 

Library, 155 

Lie (see Lees), becomes 

true, 296; good, 233 
Life, a man's, 41 ; ladder of, 

161; like moon, 158 
Lift, 326 
Light, life is, 157; owl and 

hen, 338 
Like, 259 
Lily-eyed, 228 
Linseed field, 83 
Lion, bear and, 81 ; bold as, 

112; every dog is, 301; 

fierce, 286; man like, 

266; nose of, 382; of 

Cotswold, 311 
Lip, 82 
Lips, he that openeth, 108; 

like lettuce, 380; lying, 

Listening, 283 
Little, big and, I7i; every, 

221; great and, 134; is 

better, 105; much and, 

Little by little, 275 

Live, 282 

Lives, 250 

Lizard, head of, 291; stone 
crushed, 352 

Load, 170 

Loaf, giving, 173; handling, 

Lobster, 290 

Lock, for gun, 381; of 
Heaven, 154 

Locusts, 75 

London, 329 

Looking-glass, experience is, 
156; like proverbs, 44; 
money in, 378; she pur- 
chased, 165; that told 
woman, 301 

Looks, 375 

Lose, 358 

Lost, fortune, nothing, 270; 
friend, 294; that which is, 
80, 224 

Lot, 305 

Lotus, 163 

Louse, on hose, 345 ; to bark 
at tailor, 293 

Lout (stoop), 258 

Love, and marriages, 308; 
and sense, 3O6; cannot be 
hid, 275; covereth sins, 
120; expels, ^04; he who 
forces, 262; m, 233; like 
folly, 306 

Lover, 304 

Lovers, 328 

Loving, 304 

Loyal heart, 53 

Luck (see Fortune), and 
credit, 191; and wit, 199; 
bad, 191; better than 
marks, 198 ; bold man has 
188; cat's, 191; changes, 
202; daddy's, 200; days 
before, 196; depend upon 
201; devil's, 189; dirt 
bodes, 191; few have, 
ip2; follows hopeful, 189; 
give a man, 193; gives, 
198 ; God send, 193 ; good, 
189; hazards boldly, 196; 
he that has, 104; if it is to 
be, 197; is better, 193, 
198; is not sold, 193; is 
wanting, 202; it was my, 
197; jackal gives, loo; 
mair by, 198; makes 
monsters, 190; ne'er, 199; 
seek his, 190; seeks, 198; 
stops at, 189; to catch 
hares, 202; to see my, 
197; to win good, 197; 
waur, 201; who has, 
202; will carry, 189; 
without, 198 

Luckie (woman), 345 

Luckier, 189 



Lucky, better be, loi ; bora, 
197; cocks lay for, 192; 
day for dog, 191; man, 
190; man foi^gets, 194; 
man has daughter, 200; 
man passes for wise, 196; 
man waits for prosperity, 
200; to see wcif, 197 

Ludlam's dog, 371 

Lump, 114 

Lustre, 159 

Lute, 157 


Mackerel, sky, 204; to 

catch whale, 290 
Mad (see Wud), as bull, 

173; as hatter, 372; as 
larch hare, 372; house 

gaes, 257 
Madam Fate, 341 
Madman, 336 
Madness, 250 
Maggots, 198 
Magpie, 288 
Mamdin, 89 
Maid, 260 
Maiden, 76 
Mair (more), 346 
Maker, 188 
Malisons, 179 
Man, good, 267; I am a, 

223; Turk and, 248 
Mandus, 358 
Manners, 117 
Many arts, 341 
March, dry, wet, 212; sow 

for gardener, 148; wishes, 

March hare, 372 
Mare (see Mear), 286 
Market, dog ga€d to, 36^; 

hum of, 157; send blude 

to, 347; sold in, 193 
Marks, 198 
Marriage, advantages, 277; 

let us go to, 336; melon, 

201 ; tnree kinds, 275 

Marriages, 308 

Married, 347 

Marries, early, 302, maiden, 

Marry clouds, widow, rain, 
218; he who would, 262; 
in green, 184; in May, 
198; way to, 347; widow, 
226; young man, 236 

Manying, 219 

Martmmas, water is wine 
after, 147; wind at, 149 

Master, dog bites, 319; dog 
does not oite, 306 

Masters, 120 

Mastick, 351 

Mastiffs, 286 

Mat, 266 

Match, 128 

Mate, 263 

Maxim, 41 

Maxims, 45 

May, keeper of counsel in, 
148; marry in, 198; snow 
in, 215 

May-day, 323 

Meal, cheap, 362; knead, 
345; morning and even- 
ing, 337; take your, 318 

Mean, 319 

Meaning, 344 

Meanness, 271 

Mear (see Mare), 232 

Measure, 127 

Measuring, 380 

Meat, eat, 256; oppor- 
tunity of eating, 76; to 
dog, 60; to oppressed, 
41 ; you have no, 48 

Mecca, camel to, 307; go 
to, 136; pilgrimage to, 

Meddle, 59 

Medhi, 310 

Medicine, 173 

Meekness, 140 

Meet, 197 




Melon, 201 ; bed, 343; peels, 

Melons, 343 

Memorial, 161 

Memory, 158 

Men, should do to you, 

115; women cut out of, 


Mendicants, 200 
Mends (amends), 255 
Mercy, God's, 142; ocean 

of, 163 
Merry mind, 363 
Mice, 255 
Michaelmas, 146 
Midden, 351 
Mile, go a, 271; miss as 

good as, 165 
Milk, cow and, 170; wi' a 

brogue, 231 
Mill, gains by going, 261; 

mule in, 331; parish, 

265; quarrel in, 364 
Millstones, 222 
Ministers, 274 
Mire, 122 
Mirror, woman dreads, 307; 

using, 174 
Miser, 139 
Misery, 59 
Misfortune (see 111 luck and 

Unlucky), enters door, 

281; fortune and, 192; 

one bom to, 262 
Misfortunes, on horseback, 

181; three, 279; three 

terrible, 269 
Mishap, 193 
Miss, 165 
Mist, Scotch, 238; without 

wind, 38a 
Moat, 231 
Mocker, 113 
Mole, 286 
Money, and pins, 324; 

bag of, 378; m market, 

157; nOf 80; owe, 153; 

P^y> 139! school boys 
and, 228; to buy new, 


Mongoose, 286 

Monk, hangman and, 219; 

observed Easter, 153 
Monkey, laughs, 94; never 

watches ta3, 286; paw of, 

165; settled dispute, 49; 

solicited hospitality, 332; 

watches tormus, 352; 

wi* the mutch on, 359 
Monkey's paw, 379 
Moon, bauld, 334; dwarf 

seizing, 171; full, 216; 

halo round, 210; like 

life, 158, 381; shines 

bright, 156; wane of, 

Moonshine, 94 
Moor, 238 

Moossa (Moses), 134 
More (see Mair), 270 
Morsel, 105 
Mortar, deaned in, 312; 

put her in, 227; water in, 

Moses (see Moossa), bricks 

and, 144; government of, 

133; meekness of, 140; 

Pharaoh has his, 130; 

prophet, 135 
Mosque, 65 
Mosquito, carbtmde on, 

293; dephant and, 382; 

without soul, 231 
Mosquitoes, 137 
Moss, 2^8 
Mote, in brother's eye, 

125; in't, 232 
Moth, 293 
Mother, b^^ with, 262; 

faults of, 139; has died, 

337; like daughter, 102; 

like his, 306; little boy 

and, 59 
Mothers, 157 



Mount (hill), 109 

Moirnt (get up on), 155 

Mountain, digging up, 166; 
hid, 165; medicine for, 
173; to become a, 143; 
under head, 381 

Mourning, 171 

Mouse, better of quietness, 
82; bold, 93, 286; prayer 
of, 354; tender, 46; they 
said to, 340 

Moustache, 232 

Mouth, blind sees his, 219; 
clean, 260; guardeth his, 
108; having a, 47; is 
shoes, 47; o* the cow, 
170; toom spune in, 236 

Much, 339 

Mud, Easter in, 152; man 
sinking in, 380; post in, 

Mule, ears of, 286; in the 
mill, 531 

Music, m piper's bag, 363; 
vanishes with, 326 

Musical, 222 

Muskrat, 286 

Mussel, is toom, 260; life 
in a, 290 

Mustajxl, 143 

Mutch (woman's cap), 359 

Nail (iron), drive a, 343; 

pains me, 336 
Nails (iron), lang, 94; price 

of, 58 
Nails (on hand), grow, 320; 

of eves pared, 92; on 

Sunday, 176 
Name, 185 
Names, 313 
Nandan, 59 
Nannies, 243 
Natural look, 342 
Nature, 136 
Neat, Af) 
Neck, oreak, 196; in halter, 

'50; knave to his, 363; 

nape of, 56, 340 
Necklace, peg swallowed, 

82; serpent and, 169 
Needle, camel and, 119; 

in straw-loft, 171; of 

Jesus, 130; tailor's, 340; 

to repair breaches, 62 
Negro, 247 
Negro's hair, 380 
Neighbours, 308 
Neighing, 73 
Nest, broke, 79; bird 

wandereth, 102; mouse 

makes, 93; of blind bird, 

Net, dance in, 174; to catch 

wind, 166 
Nettle, 77 
Never, 300 
New, 215 
News, 265 
Nick, 259 
Night, cloudless, 211; is no 

iriend, 182 
Nightingale, 288 
Nightingales, 318 
Nimrod, can't go to heaven, 

137; gnat for every, 141 ; 

mighty hunter, 109 
•' No?' 347 

Noah, as boatman,. 143; 
i bom with, 132 ; heart of, 

139; son of, 142; sons of, 

Noise, God's club makes 

no» 1 57 1 he who likes, 
223; till belly's full, 375 

No mistake, 302 

Noose, 157 

North, 217 

Northeast, 212 

Northwest, 212 

Nose, breais, 194; cut off, 
169; drops, 337; eating 
rice with, 47; fracture his, 
262; has no, 222; inch 



Nose — Continued 
off, 219; lang, 94; meet 
across, 185; of the lion, 
382; tip of, 319; wasp 
m one's, 382 

Not long, 304 

Nuts, 96 

Nwariwa, 358 

Oars, 161 

Obstinacy, 237 

Obtain, 132 

Ocean, b^me clouds, 169; 

great, 173; stork died, 

waiting for, 167 
Offends, 299 
Offensive, 2^ 
Oil, dead flies cause, 106; 

moonshine and, 9, 

woof of, 162 

Old age, gravity 01, 160; 


Old folks, 219, 366 

Old man, in a sack, 71 ; in 

love, 155 
Omen, 197 
Omnibus, 223 
One-eyed, men, 170; person, 

' 179.352 

Opportunity, 76 

Oppression, 247 

Orders, 349 

Ornament, is proverb, 41; 

like silence 159 
Orphan, face of, 228; is 

slave, 358 
Osmanli, bread of, 247; 

has no right or left, 247; 

hunts hare, 247; ruin of, 

237; side of, 238 
Out of place, 268 
Outside, 143 
Oven, 47 
Ovens, 147 
Owe, 263 
Owl, 338 
Owls, 288 
Ox, and ass, 107; black, 61, 

88; guelder, 238; lazy, 
310; mean man's, 319; 
muzzle the, 123; never 
weary, 286; person tied, 
332; strength of, 113 

Ox fly, 373 

Oysters, 290 

Packsaddle, 310 

Paddle, 64 

Pain, if you have r, 224; 

in acquiring wealth, 281 
Pains, 94 
Painting, 165 
Pair, 310 

Palm Sunday, 152 
Pamper, 358 
Pandavas, 362 
Panre, 1^0 

Parable, in mouth of fools, 
. 42 ; like legs of lame, 45 
Paradise, departure from, 

136; England is, 239; 

or hell, 263 
Pardon, from dry head, 333; 

to Madam Cow, 76 
Parrot, 288 
Parson's wife, 311 
Partridge, loves peas, 288; 

wings of, 218 
Pasch (see Easter) at Yule 

and, 146; when, comes 

grace comes, 150; Yule 

feast and, 147 
Passions, 382 
Passover, 62 
Passovers, 246 
Path, 174 
Patience, 248 
Patient, how does your, 

338; Job not so, 135 
Paul, Peter and, 86; what 

hast thou, 340 
Paws, 230 
Pay, 263 
Pays, 341 



Peace, 154 

Peacock, dance in forest, 

51; sluggard like, 288 
Pearls, before swine, 117; 

good sayings like, 43; 

one thousand, 96; un- 

poHshed, 163; words like, 

Pearmonger, 323 

Pears, 05 

Peas, father has field of, 

344; in bloom, 260 
Peat, 260 
Peat's-ship, 365 
Pebble, 267 
Pedal, 60 
Pegt make, firm, 173; 

swallowed necklace, 82 
Penitence, 276 
Penny, 358 
Perceives, 266 
Perfected, 277 
Perfections, 270 
Perfume, 156 
Perishable, 144 
Persian, eats till he bursts, 

247; genius, 238; sweet- 
meat, 238 
Persians, 244 
Perugian, 222 
Perverse, loi 
Pestle, avoid, 227; has 

fallen, 172^ 
Pests, 260 
Peter, difference between, 

and Paul, 172; Paul and, 

86; stir fire, 331 
Petticoat, 93 
Pettitoes, 234 
Pharaoh, has Moses, 130; 

government of, 133; 

solicit mercy from, 142 
Physic, 276 
Physician, curing people, 

365; heal thyself, 121; 

whole have no need, 123 
Pictures, 3S3 

Pig and noise, 223; lazy, 95; 

Uke St. Anthony's, 57; 

steal the, 234; with rose- 
bottle, 234 
Pigs, 286, 318 
Pigeon, 288 
Pigeons, 303 
Piled up, 304 
Pilgrim (see Hadji), 307 
Pilgrimage, 272 
Pilgrims, 245 
Pillow, 159 
Pillows, 58 
Pimples, 228 
Pin, 199 
Pinched, 93 
Pine, 161 
Pines, 162 
Pins, 324 
Pint, 334 
Pious, 161 
Pit, blind shall fall into, 

118; diggeth a, 113 
Pitcher, breaking the, 53; 

talkers like broken, 375 
Pity, 108 
Plack man, 358 
Plague, child dies of, 176; 

flee from, 329 
Plaguing, 348 
Plamtiff, 232 
Plank, 382 
Plant, 260 
Plantation, 356 
Planter, ^56 
Plaster, bring a, 349; for 

wife's head, 222; the 

floor, 342 
Pleasure, 326 
Pleiades, 211 
Plenty, 296 
Plows, 138 
Pock (bag), 256 
Pocket, 50 
Poison, of a scorpion, 279; 

worse than, 212 
Poisonous, 320 

41 6 


Pole, 380 

Poles, 249 ^ 

Policy, 303 

Poor, as Job, 132; lang, 

303; pity upon, 108 
Poor man, 46 
Popularity, 269 
Pork, 262 
Portuguese, 237 
Post, 128 
Pot, earthen, 167; small, 

241 ; water, 169 
Pots and pans, 223 
Potter, 319 
Poverty, by defect, 269; 

time of, 296 
Praise, another man's, 109; 

be to God, 356; mouth 

ceases, 163 
Pray, 356 
Prayer, fewer words, better, 

139; is pillow, 159; 

nightly, 158 
Prayer-book, 89 
Preacher, best, 277; dirt 

scraper, 332 
Preserve, 271 
Pretty, 221 
Prey, 301 
Prick, 196, 316 
Pricks, 200 
Pride, before destruction, 

no; will have fall, 138 
Priest, 199 
Prince, 247 
Prison, earth's, 163; town 

is, 249 
Prize, fortune, good man's, 

Ij6; good wife is, 44 
Probable, 373 
Promise, land of, 132; 

youth's, 90 
Promises, 353 
Pronounce, 81 
Property, 276 
Prophet, 114 
Prophets, 109 

Prosperity, lodged on head, 
200; man waits for, 200; 
worldly, 383 

Proud, and poor as Scot, 
373; dog, cow, and short 
man are, 266 

Proverb, about bear, 46; 
about cat and mouse, 46; 
about weather, 43; and 
Solomon, 44, 45; are 
children, 43; are lamps, 
43; are wisdom of ages, 
44; are wisdom of street, 
44; bear age, 44; coarse, 
46; comes on occasion, 
46; deceives not, 41; 
lox has hundred, 45; 
interwoven in speech, 46; 
is horse of conversation, 
^i; is ornament, 41; 
is to speech, 42; it is a, 
43 ; lie on lips, 44; lies not, 
42; like country, 42; 
man makes a, 46; man's 
life builded on, 41; no, 
not true, 46; of good 
meaning, 46; of the age, 
43; poor man's, 46; popu- 
lar, 45; quote your, 43; 
wise man's, 46; wise 
man who knows, 42 

Providence, provides, 327; 
special, 141 

Provision, 142 

Provoke, 306 

Prudence, fortune fights, 
189; luck inquires for, 

Prudent, 107 

Psalms, David sang, 144; 
thou readest, 173 

Pudding, and sae's a, 349; 
has two ends, 55; lucky, 
196, 316 

Pullet, 250 

Pumpkin, 54 

Puppies, 286 




Purse, he that hasna, 257; 
in, blessing of Abraham, 


Quail, 289 
Quake, 152 

8ualities, 277 
uarrel, arises, 53; no, in 
the mill, 364 
Queer, 373 
Quietness, 105 

Rabbit, 286 

Race, 209 

Radish, 316 

Ragamuffin, 262 

Raggit (ragged), 228 

Ram, after a long draught, 
163; and heat, 204; asses 
bray, sign of, 208; as, to 
parched field, 41; before 
church, 215; brown, 
black, grey, 277; bull- 
frogs smg, 96; cloudy 
Friday and Saturday 
precursor of, 203 ; cimning 
can't tell weather, 321; 
dew is elder brother of, 
162; good signs of, 207; 
he fled from, 167; in 
Chitra (October) , 215; 
in the morning, 382; 
on corpse, 178; on Easter, 
1^0; snow nor, 211; when 
dirt bird sings, 216 

Rainbow, 205 

Rains, 317 

Rajah, 267 

Ram, 286 

Rat, cat, dog, rule England, 
254; catching a, 286; 
cunning, 318; tialHng, 379; 
to catch, 166 

Rats, 80 

Raven, Krishna's name 
from, 346 ; they asked, 338 ; 
will pluck out eye, 289 


Razor, 347 

Read, 136 

Reap, 138 

Reapeth, 121 

Reason, and part of cause, 

314; draws back, 163 
Reasonable, 228 
Recall, 270 
Receives, 140 
Reckon, 244 
Rectitude, 275 
Red, evening, 205; ought 

to be worn, 186; sun, 209; 

will dye again, 260 
Red-faced, 248 
Red-haired, 268 
Reed, 135 
Reek (smoke), 56 
Refreshment, 337 
Relations, 92 
Religion, 136 
Remedy, 62 
Remembered, 271 
Repent, 181 
Reside, 267 
Resolute, 271 
Rest, on tip of tongue, 270; 

under cherry tree, 157 
Resurrection, 339 
Returns, 329 
Revenues, 105 
Rice, eating, by nose, 47; 

enough, 342; in torn 

bag, 320; price of, 222 
Rich, as alum-seller, 382; 

at forty, 271 ; better bom 

lucky than, 197 
Riches, are not lasting, 

269; of Egypt, 248 
Riddle, sieve is to, 365; 

world's a, 329 
Ride, 56 
Rider, 169 
Right, hand knows nothing, 

142; has she a, 74; Im 

and, 198 
Righteous, 102 



Righteousness, ill 
Ring, 102 
Ringers, 253 
Ringwonn, doctor has, 319; 

man with the, 341 
Rising, 221 
Risk, 142 
River, flowing upwards, 

172; into, upon a mud 

horse, 92; pours water, 

155; will foigive, 54; 

without a ripple, 155 
Road, 161 
Robberies, 309 
Robe, 256 
Robin, 289 
Robins, 209 
Rock, 314 
Rocket, 379 
Rod, 104 
Rogue, 265 
Roll, 304 
Roller, 317 
Roman, 260 
Roof, 337 
Rooks, 289 
Root, branches are larger 

than, 65; idleness is, 

133 ; in rock, 314; patience 

is tree, whose, 158 
Rope, 91 
Rosary, 354 
Rose, fell to lot of, 162; 

withered, 162 
Rose-bottle, 234 
Round, 304 
Royal youth, 319 
Rub, 60 
Rue, give him some, 313; 

leaves at Yule, 146 
Rugh, 255 

Rum {see Harry), 130 
Ruler, 129 
Rumgunshach, 50 
Rtms, 132 
Rush, 275 
Russian, is clever, 248; 

is death for German, 249; 
let not die, 242; praise a, 
249; scratch a, 244; with- 
out knout, 238 

Sabbath, 238 

Sack, mouth of, 54; muckle 

crack fills nae, 259; old 

man in, 71 
Saddle, cloth, 323; of mg^ 

Saddler, 76 
Safe, 373 
Safely, 282 
Sailing, 233 
St. Andrew, 149 
St. Anthony, 57 
St. Augustme, 369 
St. Bamabas's Day, 215 
St. Galtpert's night, 196 
St. Gervais, 215 
St. Mamertius, 215 
St. Martin's Day, 54 
St. Michaelmas's Day, 215 
St. Pancras, 215 
St. Peter's Day, 208 
St. Steven, 150 
St. Swithin, 43 
Sake, 276 
Salary, 245 
Salt, shake off, 60; what, is 

to food, 42 
Salt box, 198 
Salute, 332 
Samson, and Solomon, 141; 

strength of, 140; strong 

man, 139 
Sandal, 161 
Sark (shirt), 178 
Satan, 334 
Satisfied, king not, 266; 

two are never, 281; with 

his condition, 306 
Saturday, 319 
Sauch (wiUow tree), 256 
Saul, 109 
Sausages, 225 



Save, 133 

Saw, 376 

Say, 50 

Saying, common, 45; good, 

43; man should learn 

this, 41; old, 45 

Scale, 379 

Scarts (scmtches), 208 

Scatter, 163 

Schew, 170 

Scholar, 78 

Scissors, 265 

Scoxpion, 165 

Scorpions, 291 

Scot, as poor as, 373; false 

as, 369; kindly, 239; 

Wiss a small pot, 241 
Scotch, wooing, 243; tongue 

241, 248 
Scotchman, 238 
Scotland, Prance and, 241 ; 

view of, 330 
Scotsman, gangs, 245 ; keeps 

Sabbath, 238 
Scotsmen, 228 
Scratching, 225 
Scruffel, 258 
Sea, rivers pour waters 

ii^tof 155! throw man 

into, 193; wiU take fire, 

Sea-serpent, 290 
Season, diy, 92; never out 

of, 41 
Secret, 303 
Secrets, 303 
See. 143 

Seek, idl, object, 128; for- 
tune, 188; luck, 190 
Seil (salvation), 256 
Seize, 324 
Sense, was distributed, 321 ; 

without love or, 306 
Sentence, 104 
Septuagesima, 153 
Sermon, 369 
Serpent, bitten by, 291; 

grows not to, 176; love 

thee, 169 
Servant, and dog, 311; 

maid, in autumn, 62 
Serve, two masters, 120; 

your turn, 193 
Servitude, 357 
Settle, 363 
Seven, 208 
Seville, 240 
Sew, 237 

Shabby cloak, 334 
Shad, 290 
Shadeva, 197 
Shadow, 156 
Shame, to man, 274; would 

turn, 234 
Shark, 290 
Sharp, 317 
Shaving, 61 
Shayb, 334 
Shears, 63 
She-goat, 341 
Sheep, Brabant, 238; ilka, 

286; lamb teachmg, 172; 

like flock of, 223 
Sheep's head, 375 
Sheep-skin, 83 
Shell, 173 
Shin, 220 
Shine, God makes heart, 

160; prayer makes day, 

Ship, a crazy, 96; bring, in 

port, 43; easier to turn, 

135; freighted, 196; 

leaW, 188; of him who 

conndes, 161 ; soul is, 161 ; 

tidings of his, 311 
Ships, lofty, 208; may 

venture, 253; said the, 

Shirt (see Sark), frog has 

no, 231; lonesome wash- 
ing without, 224 

Shoe, black, 88; of silver, 53 

Shoeing-hom, x66 



Shoes, dead men's, 93; cat 
your, 66; foors, 92; 
larger than foot, 58; 
mouth is, 47; wooden, 94 

Short, 90 

Shorten, 277 

Shoulder, 380 

Shouting, 326 

Shrew, 342 

Shrouds, 338 

Shrove Tuesday, 151 

Shrub, 341 

Shuttle, 162 

Sick, as a cushion, 374; 
need physician, 123 

Sickle, carried in waist, 
379; straight, like a, 316; 
w«iding of, 307 

Sick man, 343 

Sickness, 364 

Side, on one, theChevemisa, 
81; white and black, 75 

Sieve-hole, 314 

Sigh, 261 

Silence, him that keeps, 
156; is ornament, 159 

Silk, 320 

Silk thread, 378 

Siller (silver), 230 

Silver (see Siller), network 
of, 104; virtue like, 159 

Simmer (summer), 256 

Sin, begets daughters, 57; 
canst thou escape, 272; 
love covereth, 120; re- 
proach to people. III 

Sincere, 272 

Sing, French, 246; "rever- 
end Sir," 336 

Singers, 253 

Singing, 313 

Sii^, 331 

Sins, 163 

Skaith (injury), 255 

Skidaw, 258 

Skin, for skin, 11 1; honest 

as, 377 

Skin-spots, 179 

Skulls, 134 

Sky, finger's breadth of, 
65; he goes to the, 324; 
kicked away, 348; over- 
cast with clouds, 162 

Slain, 353 

Slave, 333 

Sleep, seen in 338; without 
fire, 63 

Sleeping, 364 

Sleepy, 364 

Sleeve, 356 

Sleeves, 382 

Slice, 173 

Slip, 82 

Sluggard, thou, 107; with- 
out a scuse, 252 

Smell. 95 

Smiles, fortune, 202; when 
a widow, 218 

Smith, 365 

Smith's dog, 376 

Smithy, 265 

Smoke, bad friend will 
injure you with, 365; 
goes up straight, 88 

Smoke- jack, 36^ 

Smooth-tongued, 46 

Snail, dances, 94; deserves 
end of journey, 291; 
first, going with you, 182 

Snake, better bitten by, 
207; big and little, 171; 
can bite, 202; doesn't 
hate, 232; drunk as, 383; 
feet of, 50; for petticoat 
strings, 93; Friend, kill 
the, 336; has eaten earth, 
375; has head, 379; in 
bsmiboo tube, 92; in 
monkey's paw, 379; 
journey on high-road,29i ; 
small water, 217; swal- 
lowed elephant, 233; will 
be angry, 357; with hood 
on tail, 89; worm and, 47 



Sneezes, 197 

Sneezing, 95 

Snore, 179 

Snout, 102 

Snow, Easter in, 152; Feb- 
ruary gives, 217; nor 
rain, 211; on spit, 166 

Snuff, 222 

Sofa, 351 

Solitary, 374 

Solomon, God and, 133; 
made book of, 45; more 
Samson than, 141 ; passed 
by door, 65; the wise, 
44; were ant to crawl on 
head of, 143 

Someone, 263 

Something, on Sunday, 345; 
to one man, 357 

Son, foolish, 99; has taken 
stand, 328; lamp of dark 
house, 161; like father, 

' 267; mother curses not, 
267; observe, 274 

Song, 307 

Songs, of David, 139; to 
heavv heart, 103 

Sonsy (thriving), 255 

Soor plooms (sour plums), 

Sorcerer, 356 

Sore, 232 

Sorkie, 318 

Sorrow, for father, mother, 

wife, son, 277; iniquity 

shall reap, 132; sowing 

fennel is, 182 
Soul, 231 
Soup, chicken, 230; for 

nourishment, 276; rich 

cabbage, 92 
Sourness, 264 
Souter (shoemaker), if he 

be na a, 257 ; sheared sow, 

Souter's wife, 362 

Sow (animal), in gutter, 

363; in mire, 122; knows 
not squeak of, 286; lady 
put, outdoors, 349; play- 
ing on trtmap, 379; 
sheared, 357 

Soweth, 121 

Sows (plants), 138 

Spain, king of, 245; to die 
in, 242 

Spaniard, 238 

Spaniards, 245 

Sparks, 376 

Sparrow, in her wandering, 
103; should not dance, 
289; special providence 
in fall of, 141 

Speaks, 376 

Spectacles, 96 

Speech, mild, 158; wise 
man known by, 276 

Speed, 276 

Speers (asks), 348 

Speir (ask), 348 

Spices, 46 

Spider, at home, 301 ; house 
of, 382; thread, 293 

Spins, 129 

Spit (rod), 239; (with 
mouth), 338 

Spits, roasted, 55; snow 
on the, 166 

Splinter, 352 

Splutter, 363 

Spoke, 200 

Sport, 102 

Sprat, 290 

Sprightly, 247 

Spring (season), fruitful, 
204; long, cold, 152; mist 
in, 212 

Spunky, 93 

Spur, has no need of, 296; 
horse wants, 296; o' 
your head, 59 

Squirrel, 287 

S's, 328 

Stagnant, 348 



Staler (stealer), 2^ 

Stand, after eating, 295; 
or walk, 295 

Standing, 261 

Stane (stone), 257 

Star, 157 

Stars, are to heaven, 46; 
make no noise, 161 

State, 260 

Steal, 340 

Stealing, 232 

Steam, 92 

Steerie, 319 

Steik (stitch), 61 

Stem, 54 

Step, 357 

Stick, 259 

Stile, 177 

Stilts, 376 

Stinger, 50 

Stocking, 61 

Stomach, 57 

Stone (see Stane), bread 
and, 129; break jaws 
with, 317; cannot be 
found, 308; crushed liz- 
anl, 352; glass houses 
and, 84; he that rolleth, 
1 13; kissed, 56; man finds, 
308 ; one-eyed person and, 
179; rolling, 298 

Stone roller, 166 

Stones, 381 

Stool, 220 

Stop, 363 

Store, 321 

Stork, 167, 289 

Stout, 188 

Straight, 316 

Strange, 278 

Straw, break neck upon, 
196; may become pUlar, 
190; mountain behind, 
165; to law for wagging 
of» 253; to wheat, 113 

Straws, 58 

Strength, health, money. 

and, 325; man and, 103; 

of Samson, 140; under- 
standing lost in, 58; 

young men in their, 

Strengthen, 218 
Strife, house full of, 105; 

like plank in bridge, 382; 

perverse man scattereth, 

loi ; vexeth with, 108 
String, 191 
Strong, 269 
Stuff, 242 
Stimible, 329 
Sturdy (disease), 348 
Sugar, cash worth of, 333; 

sweeter than, 340; two 

pounds of, 340 
Suit, 266 
Summer (see Simmer), cock 

drink in, 209; heart has 

its, 160 
Sun, after clouds, 204; 

cherry blossom in rising, 

242; feel, in March, 207; 

stood still, 201; warm, 

Sun and moon, 281 
Sunday, child never dies 

of, 176; something to 

look at on, 345 
Sunlight, 190 
Supenor, 353 
Supper, after, go to bed, 

205; after, walk, 295; 

after, walk a mile, 295 
Supreme soul, 276 
Surety, 108 
Swallow, 103 
Swan, 289 
Sweareth, 132 
Sweat, cures all diseases, 52; 

sit till ye, 236 
Sweetness, 264 
Sweet tongue, 247 
Swimmer, 228 
Swims, 331 



Swine, eats the mesh, 287; 

pearls before, 117; pork 

butcher likes, 95 
Swiss, 80 
Sword, 236 
Sycophants, 228 

Tabor, 349 

Tail, bear wants, 8 1 ; breaks, 
77; dog sends, 60; don- 
key's, 381; halfpenny, 
89; hood on snake's, 89; 
mule's, 9a; rattlesnake's, 
232; tiger^s, 341 

Tailor, four farthings and 
thimble make, 252; 
needle in head of, 340; 
son of, 320; to the Jang 
thread, 357 

Take, 192 

Talking, is like vegetables, 
377; makes swelled jaw, 

Talks, 129 

Tdl tree, 383 

Tamarind, 174 

Tangs (tongs), 375 

Tank, 176 

Tapster, 311 

Tares, 133 

Tarry, 262 

Tartar, no need of guide 
for, 248; Russian and, 

Teacher, 277 

Teaching, 79 

Tears, 159 

Teeth, are not heart, 63; 
broken, 196; children's, 
III; in the deil's, 91; of 
grandchildren, 140; older 
than my, 343 

Tell, 326 

Telugu, 241 

Ten, in the pocket, 49; 
nine women among, 

Tender-hooks, 133 

Thaler, 197 

That, amounts to, 326; 
is stranger, 383; spell, 
in four letters, 325 

Theft, 263 

Thief, 310 

Thieves, 266 

Thigh, 93 

Thimble, 252 

Thirteenth, 183 

This, amounts to that, 326; 
is stranger than that, 

Thoom (thumb), 62 

Thorn, in hand of drunkard, 
42; rose fell to, 162 

Thread, bind water with, 
173; of Mary, 130; 
wee tailor, to lang. 

Three, 329 

Three-tufted, 248 

Thriftless, 317 

Throat, 62 

Thrushes, 289 

Thumb (see Thoom), 175 

Thunder, from East, 209; 

in spring, 216; rain falls 

with, 218 
Thunders, 212 
Thursday-eve, 185 
Thursdays, 61 
Tiger, eats men, 326; heat 

fierce as, 377; here's a, 

341; paper, 379; spider 

like, 301 ; withdrawing 

claws, 287, 376 
TUes, 162 
Time, 141 
Tinker, 223 
Titmouse, holds up feet, 

233; in hand, 90 
Toad, dress a, 221; prop*- 

ping bed-post, 166; said 

to harrow, 291 
Tod (fox), 359 



Today, brother of to- 
morrow, 162; do not 
think, 129; neglect for- 
tune, 192; what may be 
done, 305 

Toledo, 246 

Tombs, 173 

Tomorrow, boast not of, 
105; brother of today, 
162; do disagreeable 
things, 305; never put 
off till, 305; provision 
for, 142; regain fortune, 
192; say, what you want, 
65; what you eat, 129 

Tongue, breaketh bone, 254; 
cut off, to cure headache, 
47; easier to turn, 135; 
nrm of, 318; gude Scotch, 
248; long as baker's 
shovel, 377; moves like 
clap-dish, 377; old as my, 
343; produces good, evil, 
142; pronounce agree- 
able to my, 81 ; roast and 
eat, 48; Scotch, 241; 
smooth, 46 ; squaw's, 312; 
swallows her, 222; third, 
63; without reason, 365 

Tongues, 149 

Toom spune, 236 

Tooth, 89 

Toothache, 47 

Tormus, 352 

Tortoise, 219, 291 

Tow, 260 

Towel, 236 

Town, 189 

Traitor, 53 

Tree, blown down, 65; 
good fruit from bad, 131 ; 
grow in the divan pas- 

- sage, 1 74 ; known by fruit, 
123; patience is, 158 

Tree of life, 109 

Tree-top, 49 

Trials, 154 

Trice, 252 

Trishankur, 381 

Trouble, not say stop, 363; 
wipes, on his cheek, 58 

Troubled, 236 

Trout, 290 

True, false thing cannot 
become, 296; lie becomes, 

Truly, 253 

Trump, man who had 
wooden, 232; sow play- 
ing on, 379 

Truth, between falsehood 
and, 53; friendship is, 
160; has handsome coun* 
tenance, 163; in golden 
cofiBn, 91; is gate of 
justice, 163; seven twists 
for, 344; ^bines in heart, 
162; sweeter than sugar, 

Tub, 92 

Tube, 92 

Turban, cocked, 309; of 

straw, 96 
Turk, cannot be man, 248; 

obstinacy ruins, 237; 

town is prison to, 249 
Turkey (fowl), 289 
Turkish, 238 
Turn, 56 
Turn-about, 364 
Turner, 318 
Turnip, father is, 316; then 

the gallows, 270 
Turtle, 291 
Turtles, 381 
Tuscan, 240 
Tusk, 56 

Twa heads (two heads), 363 
Twal (twelve), 225 
Twelfth, 206 
Twelve (see Twal), 83 
Twelvemonth, 264 
Twig, 341 



Twinkling, 134 

Twists, 344 

Two, 255 

Two score and ten, 343 

Twyford, 50 

Ughan (November and 

Deoember), 217 
Ugly, no woman is, 306; 

woman, 307; women, 306 
Umbrella, fly on, 341; to 

be brought at midnight, 

Uncle, aunt may be called, 

171; honest man's, 236; 

I am your, 334 

Understanding, 58 

Unerring, 374 

Uneven, 374 

Unfortunate, counted fools, 
201 ; man who is, 302 

Unhappy, 281 

Unluckiest, 268 

Unlucky {see 111 luck and 
Misfortune), dog in 
church, 199; fish, 190; 
man becomes cultivator, 
196; man gives blind leap, 
200; man's cart, 191 

Unsicker (insecure), 364 

Untie, 342 

Upside down, 172 

Usurers, 93 

Veal, 326 

Veda, 381 

Vedas, 267 

Vegetables, 377 

Vein, 170 

Vengeance, 124 

Vest, 95 

Vexed, angry as if he was, 

223; mountain is, 339 
Victory, 132 
Vinegar, to drink, upon 

wings of flies, 167; upon 
. soda, 103 

Viper, 292 

Virtue, as king, 129; com- 
panion of fortune, 189; 
should be practical, 269; 
talent without, 159 

Vision, III 

Vizier, 43 

Voice, of ass, 228; of 
cuckoos, 281; sweet, 340 

Vomit, 122 

Vultures, 137 

Wabster (weaver), 346 
Waddles, 240 
Wades-mill, 329 
Wags, 253 
Waist, 379 

Wall, 355 

Walk, a mile, 295; hundred 
paces, 295 

Walking, 270 

Walks, 355 

Wandereth, 102 

Wanting, 131 

Wanton, 374 

Wants, 179 

Warehouse, 242 

Warmth, 62 

Warns, 202 

Warriors, 163 

Wars, 255 

Wash, inside of baby's 
hand, 177; mouth, 344; 
your face, 348 

Washing, 224 

Wasp, in one's nose, 382; 
nest, 293 

Watch, 266 

Watching, 378 

Water, bringing, 53; cast 
bread upon, 106; cold 
and hot, 47; fetch geese 
from, 170; frog in, 231; 
poat met, 62; good fish- 
ing in troubled, 303; 
house burnt with hot, 
166; in, face answereth to 



Water — Continued 
fall, 102; in mortar, 174; 
never fish in troubled, 
304; of God, 162; on 
cinders, 300; one drop of, 
96; painting on, 165; 
selling, 246; sprinkle, 
332; thou hast added, 
64; to wash towel, 236; 
tub of cold, 92; with 
bread, 173; your own 
beard, 48 

Water-horse, 78 

Watermelons, 96 

Watering place, 352 

Water-spout, 167 

Water sprite, in ditch, 179; 
reigns in tanks, 176 

Wave, 364 

Way, every, 55; seemeth 
right, 112 

Wealth (see Gear), best 
choice, 306; good wife, 
man's best, 250; Kent 
has, 244 

Wearies, 193 

Weasel, 287 

Weather, cunning know 
not, 321 ; foul, forty days, 
43; same, nine weeks, 
212; snow in February, 
fine, 217 

Weave, 78 

Weaver (see Wabster), in 
linseed field, 83; to cut 
barley, 71 

Wedding, clothes, 185; 
dream of a, 175; invited 
donkey to, 362; of the 
sickle, 307; song for her, 
307; thought it was a, 


Wedding feasts, 246 

Wednesday, 196 
Weds, 308 
Weed, 374 
Week, 61 

Weel (well), enough, 348; 
to dae, 256; very, 348; 
when I did, 260 

Weep (see Greet) on Sun- 
day, 194; why? 342 

Weeps, 342 

Weighed, 131 

Weight, 99 

Weights, 107 

Welcome, 374 

Well, are jrou, 334; don't 
descend into, 91; Eng- 
lishman knows, 238; I 
would be, 336 

Welshman, 248 

Wet hen, 374 

Wet year, 207 

Whale, 290 

Wheat, braird, 236; light 
Christmas, light, 149; 
sold at ten paseri, 222; 

. straw to, 1 13 

Wheel, chariot, 343; of 
fortune, 202; spoke in 
fortune's, 200 

Whiskers, 62 

Whisper, 160 

Whisperer, loi 

Whispers, i6i 

Whistle, 318 

Whistled, 363 

White, as dove, 331 ; Easter, 
153; lick, frae een, p6; 
something done to be- 
come, 60 

White hen, 201 

Whitsunday, 150 

Whole man, 271 

Wick, 320 

Wicked, are cruel, 102; 
associated with, 142; 
eye, 95; flee, 112; wicked- 
ness irom, no 

Widdle (wriggle), 329 

Wide world, 162 

Widow, cross stile and 
gate, 177; is ruddeiless 



Widow — Continued 

boat, 156; leave, 302; 
man useless if wife's a, 
219; many a, 226; your 
wife becomes, 48 

Wife, brittle, 88; clever, 

Wight (see Weight), 380 

Will, 262 

Willie Baird, 359 

Willows (see Sauch), 163 

Wind, at Martinmas, 149; 
catches, 166; fried, 166; 
in my face, 191; is 
against leaky ship, 188; 
is contrary, 96; life is 
light before, 157; of 
iSister, 152 

Windmill, 63 

Windy, 148 

Wine, causes sorrows, 297; 
is mocker, 113; man 
drinks, 268; new, 262; 
of a year, 270 

Wings, 192 

Winter, and spring, 269; 
fair weather in, 207; 
heart has its, 160; is 
over, 209; rainy, 204; 
troublous, 148; windy, 
148; Yule's in, 149 

Wisdom, fortune is worth 
cask of, 190; good is, 
262; of ages, 44; proverbs 
are, 44; who gains, 283 

Wise, consider ant, 107; 
ear that hearkeneth shall 
be among, 11 1; fool 
holding peace is, 107 ; fool, 
in own conceit, loi; 
Gael is, 246; in every 
proverb, 46; who weas 
ere he be, 308 

Wise man, knows proverbs, 
^; passes for, 196 

Wise men, mak* proverbs, 
46; walk with, 113 

Wish, 340 

Wishing, 283 

Wit, eat cress to learn, 178; 
Germans carry, 245; 
Irishman's, 2^6; luck 
and, 190; more nair than, 
176; o the townhead, 

Witch, there goes, 183; 
they call me, 345 

Without, bam, com, 276; 
leader, 282 

Witless, 242 

Witnesses, 232 

Wolf, and lamb, iA2;iox 
said to, 78 ; in lamb s skin, 
132; lucky to see, 197; 
mouth of, 366; obtains 
acquittal, 143; proverbs 
about, 43 

Wolves, goes with, 287; 
troop of, 211 

Woman (see Luckie), all 
taken away bv a, 249; 
"Are you well? 334; con- 
tentious, 98; fortune is a, 
192; four things for, 282; 
in pain, woe, ill, 261, 
that feareth Jehovah, 
107; white, 191; without 
discretion, 102 

Womankind, 274 

Women, nine men are, 165; 
out of men, 144; paradise 
of, 239; ugly, 306; when, 
gad, 257 

Wonder, 268 

Wood (timber), make 
wooden shoes, 94; rotten, 

Wood (forest), 294 
Woodcock, 289 
Wood farm, 283 
Woodman, 182 
Wooing, not long, 304; 

Scotch folks, 243 
Wool, 131 



Word, 142 

Words, fewer, better prayer, 

139; like pearls, 157; 

sweet, 347 
Work, 134 
Worm, digging for, 47; 

is to wood, 292 
Worms, 91 
Worthless, 279 
Wound, 344 
Wounds, 107 
Wrap, 178 
Wrath, good noan's, 274; 

soft answer, 103 
Wren, disturbs nest, 289; 

queen of heaven, 179; 

spreads feet, 233 
Wretch, 342 
Writes, 136 
Writing, on forehead, 63; 

on water, 383 
Wud (mad), 345 

Yarmouth, 331 
Yellow, 186 
Yoosoof (Joseph), 143 

York, 329 

Young, 267 

Youngster, 333 

Youth, flower of, 160; 
spring, wealth, beauty, 
intelhgence is, 281 

Yule (Christmas) at, and 
Pasch, 146; bare as birk, 
at, IJ.5; belt to, Beltane, 
149; belt to, hole, 149; be- 
tween Martinmas and, 
147, 150; Candlemas Day 
and, 148 ; come and gone, 
150; dark as, 146; even, 
150; every day is no, 147; 
feast, 147; fool marries 
at, 148; gowk at, 145; 
green, 294; in winter, 
149; is young, 150; on 
another man's cost, 149; 
rue leaves at, 146; when, 
comes, 150 

Zuz, hundred bleedings for 
a, 52 ; worth four hundred, 


A Selection from the 
Catalogue of 


Complete Catalo|(ue •eat 
en applioation 

Proverbs, Phrases, and 


Of All Ages 

ByR. Christy 

Bibie Paper 

Cloth, $2.50. 


^ spired and uninspired, as instructors, has 
long been recognized. This collection is of UN- 
USUAL VALUE, not only because it has omitted 
all those tainted with impurity, while including 
many not to be found elsewhere, but because 
the contents is classified by topics and arranged 
alphabetically, so that any desired proverb may 
be located immediately without its being neces- 
sary to have the initial words. 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York London 


Happy Phrase 

A Handbook of Phrases for the Enrichment 

of Conversation, Writing, and 

Public Speaking 

Gimpfled and Arranged by 

Edwin Hamlin Carr 

le. $1.00 

nPHIS book is something more fhan a refer- 
^ ence book of phrases; it has a bit of the 
nature of a text-book in that one may study its 
phrases with the view to improvement of con- 
versation. When the mind is filled with good 
phrases, they will spring spontaneously to the 
lips as do good words. 

The entire book should be read in search 
of phrases that appeal to one's own taste, and 
these phrases should be committed to memory. 
Even without definite effort to memorize the 
phrases, but simply by the mere perusal of 
them at odd moments, one's conversational 
powers will receive stimulation. 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York London